Click to listen

Click to listen

Sept. 20: Chicago singer-songwriter Steve Goodman, who died 25 years ago today, provided outlaw artist David Allan Coe with one of his few Top 10 hits (1975) when he came up with this, “the perfect country-and-western song.”

Goodman — who also wrote “City of New Orleans,” the Arlo Guthrie folk hit that Willie Nelson, the Seldom Scene and others took into the country realm — battled leukemia just as he was making a name for himself as an artist. Learn more about him here.

As for Coe, to say he’s been an inconsistent artist and songwriter is an understatement. (Read these profiles — one generic and one more critical — and his discography and judge for yourself.) But on his version of “You Never Even Call Me By My Name,” the renegade ex-con pulls out all the stops. He name-checks himself, as he often did on his records. He turns in a credible impression of Merle Haggard. And he delivers the comical final verse wonderfully — after a recitation that sets it up just right.

Is it the perfect country song? Not by a long shot. But you don’t have to get runned over by a damned old train to see it really is a fine country record.