Happy 45th: Jim Croce, LIFE AND TIMES
On this date in 1943, James Joseph Croce was born in South Philadelphia, which means that he would’ve been 75 today. In celebration of this occasion, we’re going to take a few paragraphs to talk about the last album that Jim Croce released in his lifetime: LIFE AND TIMES, which celebrates its 45th anniversary later this year.
Recorded at New York City’s famed Hit Factory studio and produced by Terry Cashman and Tommy West, LIFE AND TIMES arrived on the heels of Croce’s 1972 album YOU DON’T MESS AROUND WITH JIM, which provided two additional hit singles to Croce’s catalog: the title track and “Operator (That’s Not The Way It Feels).”
[Yes, it also eventually spawned a third hit, one that was bigger than either of its predecessors, but “Time in a Bottle” didn’t secure release as a single until after Croce’s death, at which point it climbed all the way to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.]
LIFE AND TIMES ultimately provided Croce with three additional hit singles, but while all three songs hit the Hot 100, the chart showings of “It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way” (#64) and “One Less Set Of Footsteps” (#37) were definitely shown up by the performance of “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” which was also a #1 hit.
Around the time of the album’s release, Croce did an interview with DJ Coyote McCloud on radio station WMAK, which the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame was kind enough to upload to YouTube for fans to enjoy:
“Released at the height of the singer-songwriter era, LIFE AND TIMES put Jim Croce up there with the best of them,” wrote James Chrispell on AllMusic.com, and he closed by describing the album as “high rollicking fun for anyone who likes enjoyable music.” It’s a shame that we never had a chance to see how successful Croce’s career would’ve been if he hadn’t lost his life in a plane crash only a few months after the release of LIFE AND TIMES, but this album, the two which preceded it, and the posthumous material that subsequently emerged certainly seem to indicate that we would’ve been hearing from Croce for many years to come. That’s the greatest shame of all.
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