From Ron Rapoport, a sports writer in this mornings Chicago Sun-Times
Goodman would have lots to sing about these Cubs
by Ron Rapoport, Chicago Sun-Times
It’s root, root, root for the home team,
If they don’t win, what else is new?
It’s funny, really, but for all the notoriety Steve Goodman got from the two songs he wrote about the Cubs–“A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request” and “Go Cubs, Go”–I always had a special affection for his version of “Take Me Out To the Ball Game.”
It wasn’t just the sneaky way he fooled with the lyrics, but the good sense he had to play his guitar quietly in the background during the instrumental while Jethro Burns put down some simply sensational mandolin licks. Of all the versions of the song that have been recorded over the years, it always has been my favorite.
It is hard not to think of the times you would go to Wrigley Field and see him standing in an aisle with his guitar singing “Go Cubs, Go.” I don’t know if Gary Pressy knows this, but every time he plays it on the stadium organ, a significant number of fans who grew up on it sing every word along with him.
Goodman wrote the song for WGN in 1984, and it was a constant presence during that rollicking season. His requests to do a benefit concert after a game were denied, however–maybe the Cubs didn’t want him singing about “the doormats of the National League” and “their ivy covered burial ground”–but he was scheduled to sing the national anthem before their first playoff game that year.
Alas, Goodman, who had been fighting leukemia since 1969, died four days before the Cubs clinched, and his friend Jimmy Buffett filled in for him.
Al Bunetta, who was Goodman’s agent, said he once asked him if “A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request” was about himself, and he said it wasn’t. “Take Me Out To the Ball Game,” on the other hand, was a song he could have written yesterday. And when I put it on the CD player again Monday, it almost sounded as if he had.