Sunday, January 13, 2019

From "City of New Orleans" to "Eretz Nehederet" - A Jewish Journey to Musical Fame


We've always enjoyed Arlo Guthrie's song City of New Orleans which brought attention to the rail lines that were vanishing across America.

The song was written by Chicago singer-songwriter Steve Goodman in 1970. Goodman started his singing career by leading the junior choir at Temple Beth Israel in Albany Park, a Chicago neighborhood.

Goodman wrote the lyrics on a sketch pad after his wife fell asleep on the Illinois Central train, where they were going to visit his wife's grandmother. Goodman wrote about what he saw looking out the windows of the train and playing cards in the club car. Everything in the song actually happened on the ride.

After he returned home, Goodman heard that the train was scheduled to be decommissioned due to lack of passengers. He was encouraged to use this song to save the train, so he retouched the lyrics and released it on his first album in 1971.


The jubilant chorus line, "Good morning America, how are ya?" became a cultural touchstone in the United States. When ABC launched a new morning show in 1975, they named it: Good Morning America

The song was also covered by Johnny Cash, Judy Collins, and Willie Nelson, whose recorded version earned Goodman a posthumous Grammy Award for Best Country Song in 1985.

French and Dutch versions were recorded in 1973 and became classics in France and Holland.

A Hebrew version of the song, Shalom Lach Eretz Nehederet, was sung by famous Israeli singer Yehoram Gaon in 1977 and became an immediate hit. The lyrics are a love song to the beauty of the land of Israel.

The latest cover of the song in Hebrew was posted just yesterday on YouTube by Israeli singers Shaul and Julia Ben-Har. You can see it below, followed by the Steve Goodman original.

Enjoy!

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