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Various Artists

My Old Man: A Tribute to Steve Goodman

(Red Pajamas; US: 6 Jun 2006; UK: Available as import)

This spare, folkie homage to the Chicago singer-songwriter Goodman, who died in 1984, was constructed by his daughter Rosanna, a musician in her own right who handles the title track for maximum emotional oomph. Steve, a lifelong Cubs fan who died just before he was slated to handle National Anthem duties at Game 1 of the Cubs’ damned venture into the NLCS in 1984 (I don’t want to talk about it), sort of gets the same treatment as his ballclub of choice, which is to say not as much respect as he often should (though he’s been free of the freefall flame-outs that club is beset with). That’s because his novelty-ish tracks (“You Never Even Called Me By My Name”, “A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request”) tend to overtake the gorgeously lulling melodies of songs like “City of New Orleans”, “Yellow Coat”, and “Banana Republics”, which has become a staple at concerts by peer/student Jimmy Buffett. The head parrot, who’s recorded almost an album of Goodman songs himself, doesn’t appear here; rather, the case is fleshed out by appropriately coffee-shop-leaning up-and-comers. Matt Keating and Emily Spray amble gorgeously through “Danger”, Kate Fenner turns in a lovely jazz riff on “I Just Keep Falling in Love”, and off-kilter bluegrass outfit Luther Wright and the Wrongs dial down the zaniness they applied to their twang-ball version of The Wall on “City of New Orleans”, which is, of course, now half-eulogy. Rosanna Goodman said her goal with the project was to expose her dad’s recordings to a new generation; hopefully she’ll succeed.

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