Sunday, March 23, 2008

spring, beauty, flowers, poetry

voices to voices,lip to lip
i swear(to noone everyone)constitutes
undying;or whatever this and that petal confutes...
to exist being a peculiar form of sleep

what's beyond logic happens beneath will;
nor can these moments be translated:i say
that even after April
by God there is no excuse for May

-bring forth your flowers and machinery:sculpture and prose
flowers guess and miss
machinery is the more accurate, yes
it delivers the goods,Heaven knows

(yet are we mindful,though not as yet awake,
of ourselves which shout and cling,being
for a little while and which easily break
in spite of the best overseeing)

i mean that the blond abscence of any program
except last and always and first to live
makes unimportant what i and you believe;
not for philosophy does this rose give a damn...

bring on your fireworks,which are a mixed
splendor of piston and of pistil;very well
provided an instant may be fixed
so that it will not rub,like any other pastel.

(While you and i have lips and voices which
are for kissing and to sing with
who cares if some oneyed son for a bitch
invents an instrument to measure Spring with?

each dream nascitur,is not made...)
why then to Hell with that:the other;this,
since the thing perhaps is
to eat flower and not to be afraid.

e.e. cummings (tulips & chimneys XXXIII)

Now, because we are also beginning a new baseball season, I want to take a moment and remember someone who was not only the finest songwriter I've ever known, he was a good and decent guy. He wrote some of the best songs in the American songbook. Like he lived his life, he wrote them quietly, he was almost embarrassed when he'd perform them. Still, he would touch some great beauty. Steve Goodman and I for a few years when I was in San Diego made a little tradition of attending each other's home opener together. I was able to introduce him to the joys of fish tacos from a pushcart by the beach, he pointed out the guys in the left field bleachers at Wrigley who, in the fifth inning of an opening day unfurled a "Wait Till Next Year!" sign. Steve, very early in his life was diagnosed with leukemia. At the age of twenty he knew what was going to kill him, and he knew it would kill him soon. I loved that guy. I've told many people when I explain how much I hate traveling on the wrong side of the Pecos river that I've only known one person in my life from Chicago that wasn't an asshole, and he died young. This is Steve Goodman, a good man, a cub fan, refusing to go down without letting us know what was on his mind. . .

Finally, because one good Goodman truly deserves another, this is my favorite song of his. This was the last song he and I played together. There isn't a recording or any film of our performance, but this is one of his best done by him at his best.

I miss you buddy. Bring on Spring!



Blogger Rez Dog said...

My memory of Steve Goodman is almost seeing him live on the Menage a Trois Tour with David Bromberg and Arlo Guthrie in 1986 (I think that was the year). If my memory serves me right, he died before the tour began and John Sebastian took his place. The three of them did a wonderful tribute to Goodman as part of the show.

The only major league ball game I ever attended was a Cubs-Dodgers game at Wrigley Field when I was in Chicago for a conference. I'm not a baseball fan but I was surprised how much fun it was to see a ball game in that stadium.

3:50 PM  
Blogger Sherry said...

someone very close to me died of that when we were 17. i used to sit with him in the old st. margaret's hospital here.

later, when i saw "love story" at the drive-in i told the people with me that isn't what lukemia looks like. i wish it had.

no one deserves that, especially not good people.

thanks for sharing.

6:04 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

I've heard a story about Steve approaching Arlo with "City of New Orleans", but I never connected "Cub's Fan" with "Alice's Restaurant" until this moment. I'm no expert, but the guitar style ("when it comes around on the guitar again,") the humor, the tone of the songs seem related.

I saw Arlo with the Boston Pops on the Esplanade on July 4 a few years ago. The site of Alice's Restaurant in Stockbrdge is still a restaurant but with a new name.

7:41 PM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

probably because he knew that he didn't have that many seasons left, and probably because he understood better than anyone i've ever met how very precious each moment can be, steve would schedule his chemo and performances around cub games. on our trading home openers we would arrange it so that after the game (or sometimes the next night) we would be playing.

those were some perfect days. baseball afternoons, then great music all night. we would scout the stands and make sure folks showed up to our shows. he loved it when his players would come to the shows.

we had some great nights together.

8:56 PM  
Anonymous tw said...

I saw Steve in Spokane opening for John Prine years ago. Somewhere on an old VHS I've got Prine singing a song Steve wrote about his dad. Prines dialog was great. As usual he said he heard this song for the first time over the phone. The phone rang in the middle of the night and it was Steve from some hote room saying, hey Prine, I've got a good one and then he proceded to play the song.

Looks like I'm going to have to dig that one out now.

10:25 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

"to exist being a peculiar form of sleep

what's beyond logic happens beneath will"

A nice match up of poem to friend.

The prime directive is to live, not knowing the mechanism underlying that life. Sounds like Steve did that. It is a blessing to know people who say "Yes!" to life.

7:08 AM  
Blogger seventh sister said...

Thanks for this wonderful post. I never got to hear Goodman live but I have a memory of sitting at a red light at a busy intersection in Arlington, TX and hearing David Allan Coe's version of the You Never Even Called Me by My Name. I busted out laughing. Looking around, I could tell who else was listening to that station because about half the other drivers were laughing, too. Everyone else was looking at us like we were crazy or that there was some joke they were not getting. There was.

9:51 AM  
Anonymous horsedooty said...

I met Steve at the Earl of Old Town club in Chicago. No idea who this little guy was but Lordy I found out mighty quick. I am friendly with a guy that used to play guitar with Kristofferson in those day and he talks about Steve with amazement and love. You might know him MB his name is Steven Bruton. He also worked for Bonnie Raitt. I did not know Steve and only met him once but I felt a deep connection and I miss the hell out of him.

Yo soy un demócrata amarillo del perro.

Yo soy Hussein Horsedooty!

7:40 PM  
Anonymous horsedooty said...

one other thing the Cubs allowed Steve's ashes to be buried under home plate at Wrigley Field, if memory serves.

Yo soy un demócrata amarillo del perro.

Yo soy Hussein Horsedooty!

7:44 PM  
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3:55 PM  

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