Thursday, May 30, 2013

I Got A Name: The Jim Croce Story

Are you wondering why I chose to highlight Jim Croce this week? It's simply because I love him. My mom loves him and I grew up listening to Photographs & Memories and innocently singing "Bad, bad Leroy Brown - baddest man in the whole downtown." The innocence of children, right? :)

I could listen to only "oldies" for the rest of my life. There's SO much great music that's already been made. As it got warmer a few weeks ago, I found myself drawn to 70s rock. I couldn't get enough of the Doobie Brothers and America. Then I thought, "I'll finish the week out strong with Jim Croce." My heart was so happy!
I started wondering about him - how in the world could "Operator," such a tender, heartbreaking song and "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" come from the same writer? I did a little searching and discovered that his wife, Ingrid, had released a Jim Croce biography in the past few years. I immediately requested it from the library and I've been reading it over the past few weeks. Here's a little bit of a recap about how Jim and Ingrid came together and my interpretation of how his style developed:
image source
Jim and Ingrid met when he was in college and she was 16. They fell in love pretty quickly even though his parents objected to their relationship due to her age and the fact that she was Jewish, not Catholic. His dad was distant and disapproving and Jim turned to Ingrid's dad as a father-figure. The two men shared a love of psychology and discussing life. Jim decided to convert to Judaism and married Ingrid while she was in college.

While they were getting to know each other and beginning to date, they played music together constantly. They booked gigs and performed in a rowdy bar in a neighboring town. Jim seemed to be really inspired by bawdy English drinking songs and would perform them at the club. Throughout the years, he met blue-collar men and was inspired by their work ethic. "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" makes SO much more sense when you read about his friendships with colorful construction workers and his stint in the National Guard. (Leroy Brown was real- he was Jim's seargent!)

He seemed to be a true artist - moody and unpredictable. Even though they had their ups and downs, they were committed to each other. Jim gave us some of the best love songs ever and I'm thankful to Ingrid for inspiring the softer side of him.

Watch him perform "Operator" below:

And the iconic "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown":

Want more love and heartache songs? Be sure to check out the below songs on my Jim Croce Spotify playlist!
  • Photographs & Memories
  • I'll Have To Say I Love You In A Song
  • These Dreams
  • Lover's Cross
  • Alabama Rain
  • New York's Not My Home
Want to hear more rowdy songs? Check out:
  • Roller Derby Queen
  • Rapid Roy The Stock Car Boy
  • You Don't Mess Around With Jim
  • Working At The Car Wash Blues
  • Five Short Minutes
  • Speedball Tucker

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  1. oh my gosh.. I just have to keep listening and watching... I could listen all day! makes me want to boogie and cry all at the same time! :)
    thanks for the walk down memory lane.

  2. I love Jim Croce! I have older siblings and had the honor of being able to listen to their albums while they were out with friends or at school. I have vivid memories of listening to his albums (other artists too!) from that era! I still listen to his on my ipod and get the vinyls out regularly too! I even do yoga to his music. I am still sad his life was taken too quickly and often wondered what he could have created had he lived. My favorite is "Photographs and Memories" Christmas cards you gave to me, all I have are these, to remember you.........But we still had a good time when we started way back when...I still tear up even as I type the words I hear the music in my head with his voice! Lovely!


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