The reason this song “City of New Orleans” written by Steve Goodman is on my mind is that the words in the song – Good morning America how are you were the ones that came to my mind as I was sitting in the Delta jumbo jet about to land in Orlando, Florida. At this time I realized that I had the kind of situation many people would like to have. I was free as the breeze, alone in this world with my cat Sid and able to do what I wanted.
It also reminds me of all the times my mom would take the Amtrack to Florida to visit her best friend. I never went with her because I was busy working in NYC. Now perhaps after I have gotten used to being in the states again I might consider a train journey just to say hey, America I am back.
“The City of New Orleans” was a folk song that Goodman wrote and recorded on his self-titled album in 1971. He was writing about a train trip that he tool from Chicago, Illinois to New Orleans, Louisiana aboard the train called City of New Orleans owned by the train company Illinois Central Railroad. You know since I find myself not far from Louisiana now I might just be tempted to see what New Orleans might have to offer me.
This song has been done in many versions and by many different artists. My favorite version is the one by Arlo Guthrie. When Goodman met Guthrie he asked him if he could sing him a song. Guthrie agreed and after hearing “City of New Orleans” he wanted to record the song. Guthrie included it on his album Hobos Lullaby in 1972 and charted on the Billboard Easy Listening chart.
Another version was recorded by country music legend Willie Nelson in 1984 and included on Nelsons album City of New Orleans and became a number one hit on both the Billboard and Country Singles charts. At the 27th Grammy Awards, this version won Goodman a posthumous Grammy Award for Best Country Song in 1985.
Sometimes when you write about a song there is not too much to say about it but this song certainly has a story. What I found interesting was that even John Denver had recorded it but as for me I still remain true to the Guthrie version.