“the stories behind the songs”
by Ingrid Croce
When I’m asked, “Was there really a Bad, BadLeroy Brown?” or “Do you have a favorite Jim Crocesong?” or “Was ‘Time in a Bottle’ written for you?“I think about rny husband Jim Croce, and smile athow he might have answered these questions.Alternating between tales of Americana, portraits ofcrazy characters, and revelations of a very romanticautobiography, Jim Croce would have told you a“bigger than life” story in his downato-earth way.He would have embellished his answers, makingthem personal because it felt good to share thatcommon experience.
In concert, when humbly introducing his ballads orlove songs, Jim would usually let the music speakfor itself But with his “story” songs, Jim’s wit andcharm exaggerated his heroes, making legends of “everymen” from lovers to operators, stock car boysto Roller Derby Queens.
“I use my storytelling in-between songs,” Jim wouldsay, “to set them up, to make them broader in theirappeal. so that peop’e can say, ‘Hey, I know that situation.‘ or ‘Wow, I‘ve seen that guy before.’ Whenanybody sees someone with a pack of cigarettesrolled up in their t-shirt sleeve, they’ll think of ‘RapidRoy the Stock Car Boy. ‘ And that real/y makes mefeel good, that my songs have given somebodysomething—a two-way exchange!”
Jim’s gift was his song, a sincere voice to sing it,and an insatiable enioyrnent of sharing his talent.He knew in his heart it was what he was supposedto do, but still, he played every moment as if hewere “playin’ hooky.”
In writing this book, I tried to keep my stories andthe songs as chronologically correct as I could. But, while some of Jim’s songs were spontaneous, othersevolved over a longer period of time. Some cameout of nowhere, others from Jim’s musical historyor his own or other’s personal experiences gatheredalong the way. l want you to know that I really triedhard to be as accurate as I could. I read Jirn‘s loveletters again and again and found “unexpected .in-between-the-lines messages.” l studied notes,handwritten songs. listened to taioes, watchedfootage, and pored over scrapbooks, reviews,interviews and stories, too. So, all I can say is that inthe end I’ve done my best. Jim, I hope I got it right!
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