365 Days of Album Recommendations – Nov 10

Jim Croce – You Don’t Mess Around With Jim

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The work of only very few artists has received as much posthumous success as has Jim Croce’s body of songs, and even fewer artists receive these kinds of accolades so soon after their passing, but such is the tragedy of Croce’s career.

After two not-very-successful albums, along came this juggernaut, and suddenly Croce was on the radar in a big way. Two singles cracked the Top 20, and these set the stage for his next album “Life and Times,” which included “Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown,” the song that would ultimately cement his place in musical history.

Life and Times was released in Summer of 1973. Croce would die in a plane crash before the year was over.

Pound for pound, it’s this album however, that for me fully showcases just how great Croce was, and that showcases the full measure of his talents. The title track, plus New York’s Not My Home, Photographs and Memories, Operator, Time in a Bottle … this is a lot of bittersweet beauty to pack into a single album.

If all Croce had ever done was write the chorus to You Don’t Mess Around With Jim, he’d be a songwriting hero of mine:

You don’t tug on Superman’s cape
You don’t spit into the wind
You don’t pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger
And you don’t mess around with Jim

Fortunately, despite leaving us far too soon, he did a lot more than that.


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