There is no denying Steve Goodman’s impact on the world of songwriting. Omnivore Recordings’ 2019 reissues of his 1980s Red Pajamas Records efforts contained a flurry of demo recordings drawn from that era. Live ’69 demonstrated his early career abilities as an expert interpreter of other writers’ songs. But the genesis of Steve Goodman, the songwriter, and the legend he would become hasn’t been as well documented. Until now.
It Sure Looked Good on Paper: The Steve Goodman Demos, due May 14, 2021 from Omnivore, presents an unparalleled look into Goodman’s two-decade career from a songwriting and an “in the studio” perspective, before the world lost the Chicago-bred singer-songwriter when he was far too young — at age 36, in 1984. Luckily, the recordings of his thoughts and works in progress live on.
From demos of the now classic “City of New Orleans” and “You Never Even Call Me by My Name” to early versions of “The Auctioneer,” written by Leroy Van Dyke and Buddy Black and the traditional “The Water Is Wide,” It Sure Looked Good on Paper: The Steve Goodman Demos finds Goodman artistically exploring. Also included are tracks for film projects including “Face on the Cutting Room Floor,” written for the Steve Martin comedy Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, co-penned with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Jimmy Ibbotson, and later covered by that band; and “Six Pack,” written for the soundtrack for the 1980 Kurt Russell vehicle Used Cars. Neither submission made it to the final feature, but it’s enticing to imagine a Kenny Rogers version of “Six Pack,” as it was Rogers for whom this demo was intended.
The CD and gatefold double-LP contain new liner notes by Lee Zimmerman, and photos from the Goodman family archive, provided by Steve’s daughter, Rosanna, who was involved in every step of this fitting tribute to her father’s genius.
It Sure Looked Good on Paper: The Steve Goodman Demos benefits from the restoration and mastering of Grammy®-winning engineer Michael Graves, teaming again with Grammy®-winning producer Cheryl Pawelski, who compiled this new collection of all previously unissued tracks.
From Zimmerman’s liner notes:
“Clearly, Goodman didn’t mince words, and now, getting to hear each of these songs in a decidedly different context or for the first time, allows for variety and variation in appreciating Goodman’s body of work. Here, fans and followers can celebrate the fact that these songs not only looked good on paper, but also resonated in the studio, and some, out in the world and down through time. And they affirm the fact that the good in Goodman was clearly great as well.”
1. City of New Orleans (Demo)
2. The Sun & the Bridge (Demo)
3. Climb the Hills to Dale (Demo)
4. Jazzman (Demo)
5. Hands on Time (Demo)
6. Eight Ball Blues (Demo)
7. Would You Like to Learn to Dance (Demo)
8. Turnpike Tom (Demo)
9. Ballad of Paul Powell (Demo)
10. Yellow Coat (Demo)
11. You Never Even Call Me by My Name (Demo)
12. The Dutchman (Demo)
13. Song for David (Demo)
14. Kiss Me Goodbye Again (Demo)
15. The Auctioneer (Demo)
16. Six Pack (Demo)
17. Dead Men Don’t Wear Paid (Demo)
18. Face on the Cutting Room Floor (Demo)
19. It Sure Looked Good on Paper (Demo)
20. The Water Is Wide (Demo)