14 Songs, 40 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Plenty of singer/songwriters were scoring folk-flecked hits in the first half of the '70s, but few combined poignant balladry with a buoyant sense of humor like Jim Croce. As this first-rate collection shows, Croce was capable of knocking out a good-time romp like "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" one minute and delivering a tender, bewitchingly melodic tune like "Time in a Bottle" the next, and sending them both to the top of the pop charts. It didn't hurt that he was a master of concision—the classic kiss-off cut "One Less Set of Footsteps," for instance, delivers its subtly searing sayonara in just 2:45 and still finds time for a guitar solo. And if there's a more fun piece of the '70s AM radio pop canon than "You Don't Mess Around with Jim," you'll be hard-pressed to find it.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Plenty of singer/songwriters were scoring folk-flecked hits in the first half of the '70s, but few combined poignant balladry with a buoyant sense of humor like Jim Croce. As this first-rate collection shows, Croce was capable of knocking out a good-time romp like "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" one minute and delivering a tender, bewitchingly melodic tune like "Time in a Bottle" the next, and sending them both to the top of the pop charts. It didn't hurt that he was a master of concision—the classic kiss-off cut "One Less Set of Footsteps," for instance, delivers its subtly searing sayonara in just 2:45 and still finds time for a guitar solo. And if there's a more fun piece of the '70s AM radio pop canon than "You Don't Mess Around with Jim," you'll be hard-pressed to find it.

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Ratings and Reviews

4.6 out of 5
271 Ratings
271 Ratings
pip-pip-cheerio! ,

Still amazing as ever!

I'm a 90's kid but I adore Jim Croce so much. He inspired me when I was little. His songs always make me cry because they're so beautiful with heart warming feeling. Too bad most music nowadays are crappy songs about getting drunk, booty, & partys. I was born in the wrong decade, man.

D'Oh-key ,

A Star that still shines brightly though long past mortal existence

Something about Jim Croces music that evokes a feeling of warmth and makes you reflect on the importance of cherishing relationships, family and your own sense of being. As a child born in the early 60s, I remember the summers of the early 70s and listening to music like his. As a nation, we were just emerging from the turmoil of the 60s and music mirrored the feelings of the country, disenchanted with a divisive war in Southeast Asia, the assasinations and the radio stations played music which spoke to us all about taking stock of our lives and Jims music was special because it very simply yet beautifully draws you in because of his sincerety uniquely entwined in the notes and cadence. I osmetimes wonder why was it so much simpler then. Maybe it was because we survived as a nation and people just wanted to appreciate and reflect and yes, while the decade eventually devolved in the gawdy Me decade, music like Jim's bespoke of a simpler time which forever lives like Time in a Bottle.

Los Pachucos ,

Has Jim Croce Lived...

He would have become known as one the best and brighest song writers and singers of all time. I have no doubt about that. His music and his lyrics were real and truthful and he did not need electronic make belive (Hello Janet Jackson and million others just like her) to make great music.

The day that Jim died my father and I were driving into Nachodoches, LA for my uncles funeral. I had just been discharged from the Vietnam Era U.S. Army. Just as we hit the city limits the local radio station announced that a small plane had crashed and that it carried a passanger he described as a 'little known" performer by the name Jim Croce who had performed at the local university the night before. I remember thinking that the announcer must have been living in a cave if he did not know, or understand, the impact that Croce was having on the music world.

He was great, and his music still is. Thank you Jim!

About Jim Croce

In the music industry, arguably the worst tragedy that can befall an artist is to die in his or her prime, when just beginning to break through to the mainstream and reach people on a national or international level. One such artist was Jim Croce, a songwriter with a knack for both upbeat, catchy singles and empathetic, melancholy ballads. Though Croce only recorded a few studio albums before an untimely plane crash, he continues to be remembered posthumously. Croce appealed to fans as a common man, and it was not a gimmick -- he was a father and husband who went through a series of blue-collar jobs. And whether he used dry wit, gentle emotions, or sorrow, Croce sang with a rare form of honesty and power. Few artists have ever been able to pull off such down-to-earth storytelling as convincingly as he did.

James Joseph Croce was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on January 10, 1943. Raised on ragtime and country, Croce played the accordion as a child and would eventually teach himself the guitar. It wasn't until his freshman year of college that he began to take music seriously, forming several bands over the next few years. After graduation, he continued to play various gigs at local bars and parties, working as both a teacher and construction worker to support himself and his wife, Ingrid. In 1969, the Croces and an old friend from college, Tommy West, moved to New York and record an album. When the Jim and Ingrid record failed to sell, they moved to a farm in Lyndell, Pennsylvania, where Jim juggled several jobs, including singing for radio commercials. Eventually he was noticed and signed by the ABC/Dunhill label and released his second album, You Don't Mess Around with Jim, in 1972. The record spawned three hits: "You Don't Mess Around With Jim," "Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels)," and "Time in a Bottle," the latter ultimately shooting all the way to number one on the Billboard charts. Croce quickly followed with Life and Times in early 1973 and gained his first number one hit with "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown." After four years of grueling tour schedules, Croce grew homesick. Wishing to spend more time with Ingrid and his infant son Adrian James, he planned to take a break after the Life and Times tour was completed. Tragically, the tour would never finish; just two months after "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" topped the charts, Croce's plane crashed in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Croce and the four other passengers (including bandmember Maury Muehleisen) were killed instantly. Croce's career peaked after his death. In December of 1973, the album I Got a Name surfaced, but it was "Time in a Bottle," from 1972's You Don't Mess Around with Jim, that would become his second number one single. Shortly afterwards, "I'll Have to Say I Love You in a Song" reached the Top Ten. Several albums were released posthumously, most notably the greatest hits collection Photographs & Memories, which became a best-seller. Several other compilations were later issued, such as the 1992 release The 50th Anniversary Collection and the 2000 compilation Time in a Bottle: The Definitive Collection. Listening to the songs Croce recorded, one cannot help but wonder how far his extraordinary talents could have taken him if he would have lived longer. Unfortunately, such a question may only be looked at rhetorically, but Jim Croce continues to live on in the impressive catalog of songs he left behind. ~ Barry Weber

HOMETOWN
Philadelphia, PA
GENRE
Rock
BORN
January 10, 1943

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