Written by Jim and Ingrid Croce at our home in Media, Pennsylvania, I969
“She’d call me in the evenin’ and ask me to come over, She’d be standin‘ by the window, with her hair down around her shoulders, We’d talk a while and then she’d smile, and then we’d close the door. And she would sit beside me, and we would talk no more.
The bells would ring at six o’clock and she’d be in my arms, Her head upon my shoulder gently resting, And then she’d wake and look at me, not knowing I’d been watching, Kiss me softly then drift off to sleep.”
Two weeks later, at a hootenanny at PhiladeIphia’s Convention Hall, Jim Croce sought me out and found me practicing my guitar. I had selected my dress carefully that night wanting to look hip and older than I was. I wore my tall black boots and a tight white sheath with black stripes running up the sides. Jim, in contrast, dressed conservatively in his collegiate, highly starched oxford shirt, navy blue v-neck sweater and light beige jeans with pressed creases. I was so happy to see him I could barely breathe.
But before I could even say hello, Jim planted his foot firmly in his mouth and bantered, “That’s a nice dress you’re wearing, You look like a little skunk!” Mortified by his comment, I withdrew and put down my guitar. Jim, realizing that he had hurt my feelings, moved closer and, with his candid humor, apologized and told me sweetly, “But you look really pretty, lng.”
Very politely, he asked if he could play me a song. I had never heard Jim Croce sing and had no idea of the treat I was in for. He tuned my guitar and sang me a haunting, traditional blues ballad called “Cotton-eyed Joe.“ I was mesmerized. His voice was so warm and sincere; it healed my wounds. That night my band won the contest, but it wasn’t nearly as important as winning his heart. Jim and I both couldn’t wait to see each other again.
“Vespers,” which Jim and I wrote together for our 1969 Capitol Records album, reveals Jim, the troubadour. as the true romantic he was. When we met, he had an idealized, dream of being a worthy lover of lost or imagined love. The song’s title was chosen by Jim, referring to the sixth of seven separate canonical hours set aside for prayer in Catholicism. I think it aptly expresses his Catholic guilt, as well as his amorous desires.