Clint’s Classic Clips: Steve Goodman “The City of New Orleans” The Old Grey Whistle Test, 1972

An early performance from the talented Chicago songwriter who died of leukemia in 1984, aged just 36.

The Old Grey Whistle Test first broadcast in 1971 and ran through to 1987 when Janet Street-Porter, the BBC’s newly appointed Head of Youth Programming, decided to close it. Readers of a certain vintage will have many fond memories of the programme but luckily with BBC repeats and of course our old friend Youtube, we can now relive those memories/find out what all the fuss was about (delete as age appropriate).

This Steve Goodman clip comes from 1972. It features possibly his best known song ‘The City of New Orleans’ which appeared on Goodman’s 1971 self-titled album. It describes a train ride from his hometown of Chicago to New Orleans on a train called The City of New Orleans. The song has been covered by many other artists and was a hit twice, firstly for Arlo Guthrie in 1972 and then for Willie Nelson in 1984, however, I’ve yet to hear a better version than Goodman’s own performance here on the OGWT. Information about Steve Goodman was added to the clip when it was re-broadcast as part of the BBC4 compilation ‘Songwriters at the BBC’. This performance is a musical triumph but also brings home the tragedy of his death only 12 years later when you see just how young he looks and imagine how much more he had to give.

About Clint West 327 Articles
From buying my first record aged 10 and attending my first gig at 14, music has been a lifelong obsession. A proud native of Suffolk, I have lived in and around Manchester for the best part of 30 years. My idea of a perfect day would be a new record arriving in the post in the morning, watching Ipswich Town win in the afternoon followed by a gig and a pint with my mates at night,
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Martin Johnson

I am ashamed to say I didn’t pick up on Steve in the ‘70s. I subsequently caught up with one of the great songwriters. Something for the ages.


Excellent choice Clint. I have a freind who sings this – extremely well as it happens because it really suits his voice – so its always been a favourite

Mairi Ann Cullen

Beautiful! Steve Goodman was a good ‘un. So sad that he died so young.

Paul S F Dickson

A great song, I actually travelled on the City Of New Orleans from Memphis to New Orleans a few years ago- what an experience.

Rick Bayles

I did the first half of that trip, from Chicago to Memphis and I agree – a great experience.

Dante Rebori

Love Steve Goodman! I wish you would do a story on Hannah Scott! Her music is brilliant and deserves more following!