From my perspective, one of the most entertaining singer-songwriters of the early 1970s was Jim Croce. For some inexplicable reason, his work is ignored and left off the Rolling Stone Top 500 list, which is ridiculous, but I made sure to include him in my journey. Perhaps his deepest collection of songs was his third studio album, “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim”. Of course, for those who may not recall, Croce was tragically killed in a plane crash just 16 months after this album was released.
The title track is one of his two most entertaining bad-guy story-songs, along with “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” which is not on this album. “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim” gave us the iconic lyric, “You don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit into the wind, you don’t pull the mask off the ol’ Lone Ranger and you don’t mess around with Jim”
Much of the rest of the album is more sentimental and reflective in its songs. Two of my new favorites from this album are “New York’s Not My Home” and “Photographs and Memories”, along with big hits “Operator (That’s Not the Way It Feels)” and the beautiful ballad “Time in a Bottle”.
Jim Croce was a master story-teller and a real talent as a performer. Like so many, I would have loved to see what else he could have given all of us had his life not ended so prematurely. His songs are timeless, hilarious, and touching all at once. What more of a legacy could anyone ask to leave?