Jim Croce is one of those artists that, despite their relatively short careers, have found a space in the annals of music history. Delivering folk gems and soft rockers, Croce was a colossal force between 1966 and 1973, before he died in a plane crash just days before his fifth album, I Got a Name, was released.
“Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” taught us some vital lessons. “Time In A Bottle” expressed our whistful desires. “I Got a Name” gave us a sense of self-pride. But beyond the singles, Croce has a number of songs that are equally as emotive and foot-tapping. Below are five Jim Croce deep cuts you should be listening to.
5. “One Less Set of Footsteps” (from Life and Times)
From Croce’s third album, Life and Times comes this jaunty break-up song, which marks the end of a relationship by the lack of Croce’s traces around her house. He sings, Oh there’ll be one less set of footsteps on your floor / One less man to walk in / One less pair of jeans upon your door / One less voice a-talkin’. It’s buoyant in particular Croce fashion and deserves more love.
4. “Box #10” (from You Don’t Mess Around With Jim)
In contrast to the story in “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim” of a country boy coming to the big city, kicking ass, and taking names, “Box #10” tells the story of a country boy coming to the big city and falling a bit short in his new surroundings. Well he hadn’t been there an hour / When he met a Broadway flower / You know she took him for his money / And she left him in a cheap hotel, he sings.
3. “Alabama Rain” (from Life and Times)
Croce paints a good landscape. Much like John Denver, Croce occasionally has an affinity for the natural world in his music – “Alabama Rain” is one of his finest examples. He sings, Lazy days in mid-July / Country Sunday mornin’s / Dusty haze on summer highways / Sweet magnolia callin’.
2. “Hard Time Losin’ Man” (from You Don’t Mess Around With Jim)
Croce was never afraid to air his struggles out into the world—it’s part of what makes his music so relatable. “Hard Time Losin’ Man” touches on how it feels when you just can’t seem to win. It’s fair to assume that at one time or another we’ve all felt like the world’s own original hard luck story.
1. “San Francisco Bay Blues – Live at Cazenovia College 1964” (from Lost Time in a Bottle)
From a 2014 compilation of rare demos and live recordings, Lost Time in a Bottle, comes Croce’s rendition of the folk standard “San Francisco Bay Blues.” The intimate performance not only showcases Croce’s distinctive vocals but his guitar prowess.
(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)