Steve Goodman: “City of New Orleans”

Posted: January 24, 2014 in THE CLASH of Cover Tunes
Tags: , , , , ,
Tune du Jour: “City of New Orleans” – Arlo Guthrie
THE CLASH of Cover Tunes: Byron Lee & The Dragonaires vs. Yehoram Gaon
Peruse, Comment and Vote (I Beseech, Implore and Urge Thee, respectively)
I've been a Puppet, a Pauper, a Pirate, a Poet, a Broccoli Man ...

I’ve been a Puppet, a Pauper, a Pirate, a Poet, a Broccoli Man …


Arguably the greatest train song ever written and it was composed by a folk – not C&W – artist. Imagine that! Steve Goodman wrote City of New Orleans while traveling from Chicago to New Orleans on the Illinois Central Railroad’s City of New Orleans. Goodman recorded City of New Orleans in 1970 and released it the next year on his self-titled album. John Denver released a cover of City of New Orleans in 1971 but it was Arlo Guthrie’s version – released in 1972 on his album Hobo’s Lullaby – that made the song famous. Guthrie’s City of New Orleans peaked at 18 on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts.


The Original


Steve Goodman:


The Most Popular


Arlo Guthrie:


THE CLASH of Cover Tunes


Byron Lee & The Dragonaires vs. Vehoram Gaon


Byron Lee & The Dragonaires:

Yehoram Gaon:

“ניו אורלינס” trans. “What do you think of that, Dougie?”

Oh the disharmony! Much like Harlan County there are no neutrals here. Only one cover tune will live to play another day and it is your solemn responsibility to decide which one prevails. So tell me … Which Side Are You On?!!?



Votes can be cast up to seven days from the day and time of the original post.

Disclaimer: Votes cast from Florida may or may not be counted.

  1. Cuspid says:

    Yeah Dubbs! Firstly, let’s make a correction to Gaon’s first name. It begins with a “Y” and not a “V”. So it would be Yehoram. Secondly, you should know that your web blog might now be at risk of cyber attack by Islamist because even though the music of Gaon’s version is true to the original, the words he’s saying have absolutely nothing to do with trains and everything to do with the love of the Land of Israel. In other words, he’s redone all the words in Hebrew and is basically singing a love song to the land and country of Israel. So the only reference at all to New Orleans is your noble effort to spell it phonetically using Hebrew letters. Well done! I usually like Byron Lee’s covers. But this is actually one of his weaker ones. But even if it were his best, I’m still giving the nod to Yehoram. Cover me impressed indeed!.

    • RDubbs says:

      The “V” in the first name was a typo (I had it correctly spelled in the header). Your explanation of the song’s meaning explains why trying to translate last night was such a frustrating and confusing experience. From the YouTube video and other sources it seemed as though the name of the song was יהורם גאון – שלום לך ארץ נהדרת, which seemed to translate to “Hello, Wonderful (or perhaps ‘Fabulous’) Country”. Since the translation did not correspond to “City of New Orleans” I assumed “Hello Wonderful Country” was the name of the album. So I continued translated each song, obviously never arriving at anything close to “City of New Orleans”. So, much later at night than i had intended to be up, I finally went with what I had hoped was a direct translation of the song.

      As far as the prospect of cyber attacks, CMI has a strict “No Thugs In Our House” policy. Broccoli Man and i will stand side-by-side defending our site from extremists of any and all ilk. (Comically, as I typed that last sentence, Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” started up on the disc I’ve been listening to.)

  2. Arnie Plotnick says:

    הם פיגור Richie. That being said, I have to give this one to Byron Lee. While the sentiment is nice in Gaon’s version, it sounds like something my parents would have put on the stereo. And I have a soft spot for reggae-fied covers. (Frankly, I could take or leave the original, truth be told.)

    • RDubbs says:

      “They lag”? Is that what your telling me, Plotnick? Well let me tell you something. I don’t know what the hell that means but I’m pretty sure I don’t like it!

  3. RDubbs says:

    I’m not sure why but I really like covers of songs in other languages. It’s like, ‘I don’t know what the hell he’s saying … Oh, wait a minute, yes I do!” So Yehoram scores points there. Even if his cover is not really a cover (see Cuspid’s remarks). But Byron Lee and his irrepressible Dragonaires (love that name for a backup band!) sound great on this cover. Could have been his own tune by the way he naturally croons it, effortlessly interjecting Jamaican landmarks along the way. Well done! And as Cowhead might intone “Bang on, men!!!”

  4. Arnie Plotnick says:

    I believe the translation of the words I wrote would loosely be, “You are retarded”, but you’d have to ask Doug for confirmation.

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