September 21, 2005

He had a hebrew name

On September 20, 1973 a small plane left the airport in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Shortly after takeoff the plane struck a tree and crashed killing all seven on board, including Jim Croce. (Source: The Jim Croce FAQ)
As readers of this blog know, I was quite a bit of a Jim Croce fan in those days. To this day, "Operator" is one of my favorite songs and I never tire of listening to his plaintive voice express regret over a love lost.
One of the things I find ironic is that because he died, his most popular song was "Time in a Bottle," but it's really not one of his best.
Captain's Quarters has some nice reminisces about Jim Croce:

I bought a copy of "Jim & Ingrid Too" twenty years ago when I found it at a garage sale, and I still have it today. It's very much a product of its time, with sweet vocals and a bit too much earnestness about society -- and undeniable talent. That album is one of the main reasons I still own a functioning turntable.

My first experience with Jim Croce came more than twenty-five years ago when my cousin Cris (who reads this blog) bought me the definitive Croce album at the time, "Photographs and Memories," which showcased Croce's skills as storyteller, musician, songwriter, and singer. With one exception -- "I Got a Name" -- he wrote every song on the album, and in fact most of his recordings were of his own compositions. He could play honky-tonk rock and switch immediately to heartwrenching ballads. Like the Carpenters, the easy accessibility of his music has led people to underestimate his contribution, especially when all that people recall of him is "Leroy Brown".

For me, Croce's songs, wise-cracking yet identifiable characters, and gentle wisdom became emotional guideposts. I played his music so often I could recite all of his lyrics by heart. When I moved to Phoenix at 29 knowing no one, the song "New York's Not My Home" never went far out of mind.

His wife, formerly Ingrid Jacobsen, reminisces about Jim Croce here and links to stories behind some of the songs. Including "Operator."

The reason, though, that I remembered Jim Croce this year, was that I'd recently read that he had converted to Judaism and had been buried in a Jewish cemetery. I can't find support for the second item, but his cousin confirms the first.

Posted by SoccerDad at September 21, 2005 2:47 AM
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