Guest Observation: Steve Goodman

Kate’s a huge Steve Goodman fan, still. Steve Goodman was a huge Cubs fan. And I’m pretty sure Kate introduced me to this song, which allegedly debuted on WGN radio in March 1983 (there’s a live version on the album “Affordable Art“; someone’s posted a Wrigley Field montage on YouTube with “Last Request” as the soundtrack). I’ve always loved it, though of course I have a bone to pick: I believe the reference to “Na Na Na Na Hey Hey Goodbye” is out of place; I’ve always though that was a White Sox thing. I don’t recall ever hearing it at Wrigley Field (though admittedly my visits have been few since the Ford administration).

The most memorable occasion I heard this song was on Berkeley’s KPFA. Examiner jazz and pop music critic Phil Elwood had a show there, and when Goodman died — in 1984, after a long, long bout with leukeumia, just a week or two before the Cubs clinched their first division title ever and their first postseason appearance since the 1945 World Series — Elwood played this. Someone at The Examiner taped it, and after we put out the first edition one morning, the handful of Cubs fans on the early desk repaired to a back office to listen to it. Bunch of tough newspaper types. There wasn’t a dry eye among us.

(And oh, yeah: I’ve been too busy ambivalatin’ to say anything about it, but the Cubs are back in the playoffs! And … get ready … they lost Game One to the Diamondbacks.)

The Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request

By the shores of old Lake Michigan

Where the hawk wind blows so cold

An old Cub fan lay dying

In his midnight hour that tolled

Round his bed, his friends had all gathered

They knew his time was short

And on his head they put this bright blue cap

From his all-time favorite sport

He told them, “It’s late and it’s getting dark in here”

And I know it’s time to go

But before I leave the line-up

Boys, there’s just one thing I’d like to know …

Do they still play the blues in Chicago

When baseball season rolls around?

When the snow melts away,

Do the Cubbies still play

In their ivy-covered burial ground?

When I was a boy they were my pride and joy

But now they only bring fatigue

To the home of the brave

The land of the free

And the doormat of the National League?

He told his friends, “You know the law of averages says

Anything will happen that can,

That’s what it says,

But the last time the Cubs won a National League pennant

Was the year we dropped the bomb on Japan.”

The Cubs made me a criminal

Sent me down a wayward path

They stole my youth from me

(that’s the truth)

I’d forsake my teachers

To go sit in the bleachers

In flagrant truancy

And then one thing led to another

and soon I’d discovered alcohol, gambling, dope

football, hockey, lacrosse, tennis —

But what do you expect

When you raise up a young boy’s hopes

And then just crush ’em like so many paper beer cups

Year after year after year

after year, after year, after year, after year, after year

‘Til those hopes are just so much popcorn

for the pigeons beneath the ‘L’ tracks to eat.

He said, “You know I’ll never see Wrigley Field anymore before my eternal rest

So if you have your pencils and your scorecards ready,

I’ll read you my last request.”

He said, “Give me a doubleheader funeral in Wrigley Field

On some sunny weekend day (no lights)

Have the organ play the “National Anthem”

and then a little ‘na, na, na, na, hey hey, hey, goodbye’

Make six bullpen pitchers, carry my coffin

and six groundkeepers clear my path

Have the umpires bark me out at every base

In all their holy wrath.

It’s a beautiful day for a funeral! Hey Ernie let’s play two!

Somebody go get Jack Brickhouse to come back

and conduct just one more interview.

Have the Cubbies run right out into the middle of the field,

Have Keith Moreland drop a routine fly

Give everybody two bags of peanuts and a Frosty Malt

And I’ll be ready to die

Build a big fire on home plate out of your Louisville Sluggers baseball bats,

And toss my coffin in

Let my ashes blow in a beautiful snow

From the prevailing 30 mile an hour southwest wind

When my last remains go flying over the left-field wall

I will bid the bleacher bums adieu

And I will come to my final resting place, out on Waveland Avenue.

The dying man’s friends told him to cut it out

They said stop it, that’s an awful shame

He whispered, “Don’t cry, we’ll meet by and by near the Heavenly Hall of Fame.

He said, “I’ve got season’s tickets to watch the Angels now,

So it’s just what I’m going to do.

He said, “but you the living, you’re stuck here with the Cubs,

So its me that feels sorry for you!”

And he said, “Ahh play that lonesome losers tune,

That’s the one I like the best”

And he closed his eyes, and slipped away

What we got is The Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request,

And here it is

Do they still play the blues in Chicago

When baseball season rolls around?

When the snow melts away,

Do the Cubbies still play

In their ivy-covered burial ground?

When I was a boy they were my pride and joy

But now they only bring fatigue

To the home of the brave

The land of the free

And the doormat of the National League

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