On Christmas Day 1994, the veteran singer/songwriter Fred Goodman met his future wife Chris's extended family. When caroling time arrived, Fred, the only Jew in a houseful of Catholics, sat at the piano and led the guests through classic after classic, including all the verses -- in Latin -- of "Adeste Fidelis" -- the song you and I more likely know as "O Come All Ye Faithful."
Fred was born in Wilmington, DE in 1946. After graduating with a BA in English from the University of Delaware in '68, he moved to Manhattan, where his first published song, "Fill My Soul," was produced by Koppelman-Rubin (of Lovin' Spoonful/Turtles fame) and recorded by Tommy James and the Shondells. The record came "this close" to being the follow-up to the group's No. 1 smash, "Mony Mony" and served as Fred's introduction to show-biz heartbreak.
"This close" doesn't pay the rent, so Goodman took a job at the trade magazine Record World, where he held a variety of writing and editing positions for three years. Full disclosure: At Record World, Fred was my boss, then we were colleagues, and then I was his boss. We've been friends ever since. During that time, his song "Didn't It Look So Easy" was a moderate R&B hit for the Five Stairsteps, the follow-up to their chestnut, "O-o-h Child." And the instrumental "Esperanto," by the Grand Piano Company, made the MOR charts and became a dance club staple in Northern England.
After leaving Record World to devote more time to songwriting, Fred signed with Steve Popovich's Cleveland Entertainment, where he scored with Ellen Foley's, "We Belong to the Night," an international hit that went No. 1 in the Benelux countries. More than 30 years later, Dutch star Maaike performed it on her country's edition of "X Factor," and the recorded version went to No. 3 in Holland. Fred's songs have been covered by such other artists as the Iron City Houserockers, Gary Private, Sherri London, and Suzi Dietz.
Fred continued to ply his editorial trade at the music trades, contributing to Hits (whose editor/co-owner Lenny Beer is another erstwhile Record World colleague) and putting in several years as the editor at Cash Box, where he toiled for its monumentally cranky owner George Albert, the man who insisted that he "started" everyone and everything in the music industry. Fred recalls, "One day, I asked George if he planned to attend the Palm Springs Film Festival, since he had a home there. He asked me what it was, and when I told him that it was sort of a stateside version of the Cannes Film Festival, he exclaimed, 'Cannes! I started that!'"
In recent years, in addition to serving as managing editor of yet another trade, Pro Sound News, Fred has written, produced and recorded two full-scale albums on his own label, Froy Records. "Kvetch 22," released in 2006 under the name Freddy & The Froy Boys, was a collection of comic pop tunes with zany lyrics, a sort of "Weird Al...lan Sherman." Three years later, Fred released "The Last Days of Rock 'n' Roll" by Fred and the Fredettes, a name he revived from his oldies sing along group that performed regularly at Home Restaurant on Manhattan's Upper East Side during the 1970s. (Regular Fredettes included the beautiful May Pang.)
Fred continues to write and record new material, and may partner up again with Ellen Foley. He's toying with the title for the next Froy Boys LP -- "Kvetch 23"? "Kvetcher in the Rye"? "Kvetcher in the Wry"?
Fred's parallel career as a gifted parodist includes these gems:
"Nude Guys" ("Blue Skies")
I went to a film last Saturday night
I knew right away something wasn't quite right
An all-male cast was up on the screen
And it wasn't "Platoon," if you know what I mean
There were nude guys smiling at me
Nothing but nude guys did I see
No girls, nary a one
Nothing but nude guys having fun
"Carrots and Walnuts" ("I Am the Walrus")
I'm eating eggplant, she's eating eggplant
Carrots and walnuts
Tofu for two!
"Then He Brissed Me" ("Then He Kissed Me")
When I was 8 days old, my parents threw a party for me
They invited their friends and all of the family
The food was good, the drinks were nice
I was having the best time of my life
But suddenly the rabbi took a knife
And then he brissed me
They say great songwriters write about what they know best. Of course, that didn't stop Irving Berlin, a Jew, from conjuring the most famous Christmas carol this side of "Adeste Fidelis." In that spirit, Fred, based on a discovery he made about a certain white-bearded Christmas icon, offers this number to add spice to holiday playlists...