Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sanity Sunday - Four by Jim Croce

by Nomad

Even though they may not have ever realized it at that time, on 20 September 1973, music lovers lost a rising star. Upon takeoff from an airport in Natchitoches, La, the single-engine plane in which singer/songwriter Jim Croce and five others were riding failed to gain altitude and crashed.
All aboard died.

At the time, Croce was well on his way to fame and fortune.
Tragically, his career was abruptly cut short.

Born in South Philly on 10 January 1943, Croce learned music at an early age. For most of his short life, he struggled to earn a living and music was not a dependable profession. In an interview he once said:
"I've had to get in and out of music a couple of times, because music didn't always mean a living. You don't make that much in bars; I still have memories of those nights, playing for $25 a night, with nobody listening."
Outside of performing, Croce made ends meet with teaching jobs and construction work. From the sound of it, it was a long road to success. Playing bars and life on the road wore him down and finally, he had had enough. Croce and his wife became disillusioned with both the music business and New York City.

The couple decided to leave the Big Apple, sell their guitars, move to Pennsylvania to live a quiet life in the country. According to his biography, there they had a son, Adrian James Croce. While driving trucks and working in construction, Croce still continued to write songs.

In 1970, Croce was enticed to come back and record a demo tape of some of his songs. After a couple of rejections from record companies, ABC Records eventually signed with Croce and, in 1972, released his first solo album, You Don't Mess Around With Jim,

America was ready for Croce's gentle tough demeanor and the record was an instant success. It became a Top 20 album in the United States. The title track reached the Top 10 on the pop charts while "Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels)" reached the Top 20.

Even as he stood on the verge of success, Croce seemed unable to believe it. As his first album became a hit, he said:
"It's a strange feeling. After having played for such a long time I don't even know how to describe it."
Here's his song, Photographs and Memories.

In a 1974 review  of his posthumously-released compilation album, the editors of Billboard Magazine wrote:
"It is hard to believe one man poured out a fountain of excellent work in barely two years, but this LP offers proof of the greatness of Croce's career and is, in all respects, truly a greatest hits album. They're all worthwhile and this magnificent collection makes one realize just how greatly this man will be missed. The beauty of music, however, is that he will always be heard."
 We will close this tribute with perhaps his best-known work, "Time in a Bottle."
(Update: The particular version is the actual demo recording)

 Have a great Sunday and keep the faith.