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I can’t recall the mental trail that got me there, but yesterday, for the first time since the 1970′s, I listened to Steve Goodman’s song, Spoon River.

I saw myself in the living room of the Evanston apartment I shared with two other Northwestern University students.

Goodman was a Chicagoan; he performed in Evanston all the time.

I saw myself sprawled in front of a record player. I must have been doing that thing I’ve done since I was five years old with music I like: Listening to it obsessively, for hours. In the windows of the room there was sunlight and snow.

I certainly learned the piece, since I sang along without hesitation yesterday, every word, every inflection, intact.

All of our lives were entwined to begin with.

The union’s preserved.

I tried to entwine with Goodman’s singing. I’m a good vocal mimic.

I thought of his early death, his leukemia. Cool Hand Leuk, he called himself.

The morning is heavy with one more beginning.

But his most famous songs were about evenings: This train’s got the disappearing railroad blues.


This, though, this moment of mine at the laptop, 2013, was high noon, the living room windows showing sun and no snow. The semester’s classes were over; grades had been entered.

The holidays meant UD could sit quiet and alone in her house and ponder and feel the flow of her life.

It was Goodman who made her feel this, who pressed upon her the specific depth of the river, and for this she was immensely grateful.

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2 Responses to “UD, Holidays.”

  1. Rita Says:

    I love that song, but always assumed it was written by Arlo Guthrie. This is a nice version.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Rita: Guthrie was a close friend of his, and features in various memorial YouTubes…

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