(My) Rock Moment: “Life and Times,” Jim Croce

In early 1973, my father took us out to go shopping for my mom’s birthday. She loved music, and mentioned she liked a new tune on the radio called “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” mainly because it talked about Chicago, her hometown. I liked the song too, so I suggested to my dad that we get it for her for her birthday. It was going to be a big surprise. Well, like with most presents I buy my mom, the joke was on me. She hated it, and couldn’t wait to take it back. But for some reason we decided to keep it, and I’m glad we did.

 

Life and Times by Jim Croce was my introduction to music. Every song on that album struck a chord with me. I literally played that record on my crappy stereo until the scratches made it to hard to listen to. I liked it because it was different than the Herb Alpert and Johnny Mathis records I always heard being played around the house. It was something I could call my own.

A few months after our trip to the record store, Jim Croce died in a plane crash just outside of Nachitoches, Louisiana. He was just 30 years old and on the brink of superstardom. During his short solo career (he made a couple of records with his wife Ingrid) he penned tunes like “Time in a Bottle,” “I Got a Name,” “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim,” “Operator,” the haunting “I’ll Have to Say I Love You in a Song,” and his most well-known hit “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.” Not bad for a couple of years of work.

To mark the 35th anniversary of his death, Rhino Records is re-releasing Life and Times and his first album, You Don’t Mess Around with Jim on CD on September 20. It will be the first time both have been released in their original form on compact disc. Both albums will also be available on vinyl.

Croce’s music still strikes a chord with me to this day. Every time I hear one of his songs on the radio these days, it takes me back to my room in Ballwin, Missouri. I can see the black ABC Records label spinning round and round, I can hear myself singing along off key and I can remember enjoying life like a nine-year-old should.

YouTube: Bad, Bad Leroy Brown

 

YouTube: One Less Set of Footsteps

 

YouTube: These Dreams

 

YouTube: You Don’t Mess Around with Jim

 

Jim Croce Official Website

 

 

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