The 1970’s were the decade of the singer-songwriter, and Jim Croce was one of the best. In his brief career, from 1966 until his death in 1973 at the age of 30, he recorded five albums, though the best-known were the three he recorded for ABC Records, You Don’t Mess Around With Jim, Life And Times, and the posthumous I Got A Name. While touring to promote Life And Times, the chartered plane that was carrying him, his backing guitarist Maury Muehleisen, and four others crashed on takeoff in Natchitoches, Louisiana, killing all aboard.
Jim did sometimes-humorous story songs such as “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” (his one #1 song during his life), “Rapid Roy, the Stock Car Boy,” and his first hit, “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim.” He also did ballads, such as “Time In A Bottle.” I’ve chosen songs today to showcase his talent with both.
“Operator (That’s Not The Way It Feels)” was from You Don’t Mess Around With Jim, and is an example of one of his story songs. This song reached #17 on the Hot 100 and #11 on the US Adult Contemporary and Canadian charts in 1972.
Jim’s last single, “I Got A Name,” was released September 21, 1973, the day after he died, and is a good example of his ballads. It reached #10 on the Hot 100, #4 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and #8 on the Canadian chart.
I was always impressed with the way he and Maury worked together. Both were excellent guitar players and singers, and harmonized well with each other. If you enjoyed these two samples, check out Jim on YouTube. His family has built an excellent website to his memory as well.
Jim Croce, your Two for Tuesday, July 15, 2014.