Tag Archives: Folk Rock

11: I Got a Name (Jim Croce)

Album: I Got a Name
Artist: Jim Croce
Year: 1973

1. I Got a Name
2. Lover’s Cross
3. Five Short Minutes
4. Age
5. Workin’ at the Car Wash Blues
6. I’ll Have to Say I Love You in a Song
7. Salon and Saloon
8. Thursday
9. Top Hat Bar and Grille
10. Recently
11. The Hard Way Every Time

Released three months after his death, I Got a Name helped Croce achieve way more success than he ever did while alive. I Got a Name and I’ll Have to Say I Love You in a Song were both top ten hits and very deserving of such. The song that really does it for me is Lover’s Cross. Not to beat a dead horse, but it’s a song about leaving an abusive relationship and it really hits home for me. My favorite Croce line: “Still I hope that you can find another who can take what I could not. He’ll have to be a super guy or maybe a super god.”  Age is another classic Croce song about living a long-hard life. Again, he was thirty. Ugh.

The rest of the album is very solid. Five Short Minutes is reminiscent of Gary Puckett’s Young Girl and is kind of creepy, despite its intent to be humorous. It sounds nice, but is probably the weakest song here. Workin’ at the Car Wash Blues and Top Hat Bar and Grille are a couple of generic up-tempo country songs but are pleasant enough. The remaining four songs are great, especially the ballad The Hard Way Every Time, a fitting and somber end to this album and his career.

22: You Don’t Mess Around With Jim (Jim Croce)

Album: You Don’t Mess Around With Jim
Artist: Jim Croce
Year: 1972

1. You Don’t Mess Around with Jim
2. Tomorrow’s Gonna Be a Brighter Day
3. New York’s Not My Home
4. Hard Time Losin’ Man
5. Photographs and Memories
6. Walkin’ Back to Georgia
7. Operator (That’s Not the Way It Feels)
8. Time in a Bottle
9. Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy)
10. Box #10
11. A Long Time Ago
12. Hey Tomorrow

A common crack about Jim Croce is that people are surprised to find out he died when he was 30 years-old because he looked like he was approaching 50 at the time. I think he also looked this age because his songwriting often sounded like a guy approaching middle age as well. While his songs are generally simple, the lyrics often carry a mature bent generally not seen in those in their 20’s. The guy did have a hard life, as thanks to his record company he died in debt despite his success. Apparently, his plan was to quit music after his last tour because he was constantly homesick for his wife and son. My father was on his way to see him in concert when Croce’s plane crashed.

Croce’s velvet voice carries his ballads. Time in a Bottle, written for his son, is one of the sweetest songs I’ve ever heard.  New York’s Not My Home is one of the more earnest city mouse/country mouse tales out there. Operator is corny but also one of the better songs about a conversation with an operator. Considering I’ve never had a conversation with an operator (and now never will), it shows how timeless Croce’s writing really is.

He adds a bit of twang for his more up-tempo country songs, such as You Don’t Mess Around with Jim and Rapid Roy. My favorite of these is Box #10.

60: Bridge Over Troubled Water (Simon & Garfunkel)

Album: Bridge Over Troubled Water
Artist: Simon & Garfunkel
Year: 1970

1. Bridge over Troubled Water
2. El Condor Pasa (If I Could)
3. Cecilia
4. Keep the Customer Satisfied
5. So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright
6. The Boxer
7. Baby Driver
8. The Only Living Boy in New York
9. Why Don’t You Write Me
10. Bye Bye Love
11. Song for the Asking

This may be the only time I can think of that a group or band with more than a couple albums had their very last one be their best. And it’s not even close. I can’t make it through any other Simon & Garfunkel album, despite loving songs on each of them. Scarborough Fair is one of my favorite songs, but the album it’s on is a snooze-fest. Bridge Over Troubled Water, on the other hand, is solid from beginning to end.

I’m not as huge of fan of the title track as most people are, but it’s a pretty solid ballad. Thankfully, the awesomeness keeps on coming. El Condor Pasa is a very pretty tune. Cecilia is goofy fun, and I love the clapping throughout. Keep the Customer Satisfied is a hidden gem, with one of my favorite choruses ever.

It’s the same old story
Everywhere I go,
I get slandered,
Libeled,
I hear words I never heard
In the Bible
And I’m one step ahead of the shoe shine
Two steps away from the county line
Just trying to keep my customers satisfied.

So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright is a touching obituary, and then we get The Boxer, a wonderful song with wonderful singing. It’s my second favorite S&G tune. Baby Driver is another fun, up-beat song.

Unfortunately, the album kind of whittles down after that. Bye Bye Love is a decent cover of the Everly Brothers hit, but I’d rather just be listening to the original. And why are we hearing it live? It makes for a very disjointed feeling, and would have been placed better at the end of the album. The other three songs are quite unmemorable, though they’re at least pleasant. Still, if this were a seven song album, it would likely place in my Top 25.