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Everytime I Try To Tell You, The Words Just Come Out Wrong...
July 25, 2004 6:35 PM   Subscribe

In the early 70's explosion of singer-songwriters, one great one's career was tragically cut short, just over 30 years ago. His lyricism, humor, unpretentious manner, and ear for a hook are sadly missed and rarely remebered these days. The recent release of archival material might help revive interest.
posted by jonmc (56 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think everyone listening to am radio throughout the 70s know every single one of his songs : >

*bad, bad, leroy brown, baddest man in the whole damn town*
posted by amberglow at 7:04 PM on July 25, 2004


I love, love, love Jim Croche. Love him. Refuse to believe he's dead. Am fairly sure there's an island somewhere with him, Jimi, Jim Morrison, Janis and Elvis all jamming, splitting spleefs and drinking wine from the bottle.
posted by dejah420 at 7:09 PM on July 25, 2004


I love, love, love Jim Croche.

As do I. I grew up hearing all those tunes on the radio on car trips. I'm always stunned when people like James Taylor (who was the proto-yuppie) and Leonard Cohen (sometimes excellent, but a far better writer than a performer) were praised to the ceiling and Croce was often dismissed as a top 40 lightweight. His unassuming, straightforward honesty blows those other guys away.
posted by jonmc at 7:16 PM on July 25, 2004


In the early 70's explosion of singer-songwriters, one great one's career was tragically cut short

I was sure that this was going to be about Harry Chapin, and I'm a little disappointed that it wasn't. Jim Croce's decent-- I'm not knocking him.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:18 PM on July 25, 2004


Time in a Bottle is the song I imagine plays in hell.

(But Leroy Brown was cool....)
posted by jalexei at 7:19 PM on July 25, 2004


mayor, Harry did a lot of great things, like working with World Hunger Year, but aside from "Cat's In The Cradle," "Taxi" and "WOLD" he was fairly pedestrian and kinda mawkish, IMO. Croce is in the company of the John Prine and Kris Kristoffersons as one of the best songwriters of the 70's.

Also, I would've loved to hear Johnny Cash sing "Operator" as country. Maybe Dwight Yoakam will take a whack at it.
posted by jonmc at 7:26 PM on July 25, 2004


No, "Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown" was a mere rehash of "You Don't Mess Around With Jim".

Because you DON'T pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger.

And I second the Mayor on Harry Chapin; the 23rd anniversary of his passing was just nine days ago. You ain't heard a great bad Country song 'til you've heard "30,000 Pounds of Bananas". Chapin made mawkish cool.
posted by wendell at 7:30 PM on July 25, 2004


There's actually an early draft of Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho with a Jim Croce chapter.
posted by ed at 8:02 PM on July 25, 2004


Wendell: What about "30,000 Pounds of Viagra"? Can't remember who does that, though... (And: ... country?!)

Croce definitely had a more consistent ear for the hook than Harry Chapin; I'll sign up for the chorus that chants how badly under-rated he is. As a kid I loved his funky stuff (and yeh, Big Jim got his back), like "Roller Derby Queen". But he had a fearless sentimentality that was a lot more credible coming out of a wiry, cigar-smoking ex-drifter than from, say, Lobo or Karen Carpenter. So stuff like "I Got A Name", "Hard Way Every Time" or -- yes -- "Operator" end up being pretty hard to cover, because they just sound silly coming from someone else. Except Johnny Cash. Or Kris Kristofferson, for that matter. Come to think of it, Willie could do some interesting stuff with Croce tunes. Or maybe Dwight Yoakam. Or Greg Brown.

Anyway, if "Operator" plays in hell, it will be right up there alongside "Bridge Over Troubled Water", and played as Muzak.

BTW, how many of you have seen A J Croce? He's a ton of fun; a human jukebox for blues and jazz piano stuff, with a real taste for boogie. The one time I saw him, he played a long, hard show that left the whole club sweating like pigs.
posted by lodurr at 8:12 PM on July 25, 2004


... Oh, yeah, also: You really hadn't heard Jim Croce until you'd heard the stage raps. I never saw him, of course -- I was too young -- but my brother was a big fan, and bought the first posthumous live collection, complete with a side of "raps". I've heard other archival stuff here and there since then. The guy was just funny as hell, quite aside from being a master of the hook.
posted by lodurr at 8:16 PM on July 25, 2004


But he had a fearless sentimentality...

Thanks for that phrase lodurr. The problem with too much of todays music is that it either cynically deploys sentimentality or turns it's nose up at it entirely.
posted by jonmc at 8:20 PM on July 25, 2004


Make it a third on Harry Chapin, if only for the aforementioned "Bananas" and "All My Life's A Circle", which may be (okay, is) mawkish, but always makes me smile.

That said, the VERY FIRST 8-track cassette I bought with my own money (remember, I'm old) was Jim Croce's Greatest Hits. I still don't know why I bought that particular collection, but I did for a reason, I guess.

I also don't know whatever happened to that 8-track, but I wouldn't be able to do anything with it now if I knew, so ... eh!
posted by yhbc at 8:43 PM on July 25, 2004


Sign I'm getting old: was listening to an AM station out of Chatham, Ontario, the other day (I'm in Detroit). They played a nice selection of songs from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, with a decent mix of old CanCon tunes thrown in. Anyway, they played "Time in a Bottle", and then the DJ (who is probably some pimply-faced 19-year-old) said "That was the late Jim Croce", but pronounced the last name as "Crow-shay."
posted by Oriole Adams at 9:18 PM on July 25, 2004


Fantastic post. I was always partial to the duets he did in the early part of his career with his wife, Ingrid - songs like "Child of Midnight," "Vespers," and "Spin, Spin, Spin."

A lot of his stage presence was urban-cowboy schtick, but the music was quite beautiful, and his lyrics were never banal.
posted by PrinceValium at 9:41 PM on July 25, 2004


There's actually an early draft of Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho with a Jim Croce chapter.

I don't doubt that for a second. I don't care for Croce. His career, in my recollection, amounted to very little until he died. After that, reissues of his material became a minor amd then major cottage industry.

Another thing is, and this did not sink in the last time I brought up the subject --on the topic of actually being alive at the time and having to listen to top 40 radio at the time--you can't stay crazy about songs you can't escape. It was Jim Croce 24/7 for a month or more. You don't develop a deep and abiding love and respect for a second string singer songwriter by being repeatedly exposed to the same short set of second string songs day after day, week after week. They don't call it ad nauseam for nothing.

And that's what it was for months after his death: Jim Croce wall to wall on the radio. You couldn't escape him. And then for years, every other late night TV K-Tel type for a cheesy collection of songs by any given musician was for yet another set of Jim Croce songs. When it comes to cheesy single artist K-Tel Collections, Jim Croce probably leads the category to this day.

So, I didn't and don't care for Jim Croce, and part of this is due to the lame hype that happened around his death. His death was one of those situations where a star dies suddenly and unexpectedly just as he or she is coming into their own. The details of his or her story are moving--especially if a loving spouse and beautiful young children are in the mix--and then an army of entrepeneurs buy up all the short term rights to the same set of songs which are then endlessly repackaged and endlessly hawked on late night TV.

One can be romantic about such people only if one is not old enough to remember them in the context of their life, death , hype, re-hype, over-hype, re-overhype and rehyped overhype followed by yearly volleys of the K-Tel collection bombardment.

He had his moments but he was not that good and people made out like he was better than that good for years in order to move product. As a consequence, you end up with an over-hyped dead person who got far more attention than his extremely finite output merited. Nick Drake seems to have suffered from the same sort of posthumous hype and over attention for a similar set of reasons.

I still want to run screaming from the room when I hear Time In A Bottle.

Heard. It. All. Way. Too. Much. Already.
posted by y2karl at 10:23 PM on July 25, 2004


Here is an interview from last year with A.J. Croce, Jim's son, and also a musician. (A.J.'s web site.)
posted by taz at 10:36 PM on July 25, 2004


I remember Croce; remember being saddened at his death and if I recall correctly, by the time he went down he had released three albums; had 'em all at home. I didn't think he was a _great_ talent, but it was honest with a real poor-boy-makes-good flavor.

"Time In A Bottle" has been overdone, but it doesn't bother me one bit, unlike Chapin. I liked Chapin's sardonic "The Entertainer" (...uh, that was him, right? not Billy Joel?) but his other work set my teeth on edge.
posted by StOne at 10:39 PM on July 25, 2004


Of course karl. There's no other explanation. Thanks for breaking down our motivations for us. Where would we be without you?

I don't care for Croce.

You could've ended your post there. But apparently it seems to bother you that other people do.

"The Entertainer" was by Billy Joel, St0ne.
posted by jonmc at 10:41 PM on July 25, 2004


Another thing is, and this did not sink in the last time I brought up the subject --on the topic of actually being alive at the time and having to listen to top 40 radio at the time--you can't stay crazy about songs you can't escape.

We get it. You've seen and heard and done everything twice and weren't impressed. Pin a fucking medal on yourself.

I don't recall asking you to educate me on the state of the world, karl. You don't like Croce, that's fine. Other people in the thread didn't either, but they didn't make an ostentatious display of themselves and their hipster emiritus "cred" in the process.
posted by jonmc at 10:59 PM on July 25, 2004


I appreciate the post, jonmc....brought back the days. Somewhere I've got an old 8-track of Croce, and his love songs, like woodsmoke, remind me very much of a certain lady's eyes in firelight.

And of course, there was this....

I’ve been up and down and around and ’round and back again
I’ve been so many places I can’t remember where or when
And my only boss was the clock on the wall and my only friend
Never really was a friend at all

I’ve traded love for pennies, sold my soul for less
Lost my ideals in that long tunnel of time
I’ve turned inside out and around about and back and then
Found myself right back where I started again

Once I had myself a million, now I’ve only got a dime
The diff’rence don’t seem quite as bad today
With a nickel or a million, I was searching all the time
For something that I never lost or left behind

posted by fold_and_mutilate at 12:21 AM on July 26, 2004


I know this isn't a thread about Harry, but because jonmc started the thread, I'm going to take jonmc's normal music-thread role and say "You just don't get it!"

The allegations of Chapin being overly-sentimental are completely accurate in (many) specific instances. However, I can point to a number of songs from his catalog that are brilliant. I will point specifically to The Rock, is an incredibly poignant allegory about US politics, made even better by being written in excellent verse.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:42 AM on July 26, 2004


Ah, the summer trips to the beach with all those Croce 8-tracks in mom's Buick. Harry Chapin couldn't hold Croce's jock, to coin a phrase.
posted by yerfatma at 4:55 AM on July 26, 2004


in some defense of y2karl : i didn't read his post as "an ostentatious display of themselves and their hipster emiritus 'cred'". were this the case, he probably would have waxed on about nick drake in a similarly flattering light. pointing out the pop cultural ubiquity of a songwriter who died young isn't the same as saying "i hate x, y is so much better because it's more obscure and (etc)," which is how i read karl's post. ymmv.

someone tried to teach me to play guitar with "bad bad leroy brown" once...
posted by pxe2000 at 5:17 AM on July 26, 2004


Dissent is patriotic, jonmc.
As for this line: you can't stay crazy about songs you can't escape - y2karl is absolutely right. Wouldn't it be nice if the next time you heard "Piano Man" or "American Pie" you had heard it only twice before, not five hundred times?
posted by PrinceValium at 5:24 AM on July 26, 2004


I'm with y2karl. I liked Croce's songs when he was still alive, but after he died, his corpse was splattered everywhere.

I thought 20 years later enough time had passed and I bought his greatest hits CD. One listen was more than enough; the songs were still good but I was still burnt out on them, and it went on the 'sell' pile.
posted by mischief at 6:11 AM on July 26, 2004


No, you can't stay crazy about songs you can't escape.

But let's be real, folks: Unless you're chained to a radio that's always-on tuned to an "easy listening" station, you escaped this stuff years ago.

Let it go.

Jeebus Cheerist, I used to live next door (with only a very, very thin wall between) to a guy who played Madonna's Greatest Hits on continuous loop. For six months straight. My brain would replay "Lucky Star", "Like a Virgin", "Borderline", and other such timeless classics, from the opening bars to the fadeout, at the tiniest provocation.

For years.

But I'm over it. If I can get over that, then you guys can get over a few too many listens to "Time in a Bottle."
posted by lodurr at 6:20 AM on July 26, 2004


Wouldn't it be nice if the next time you heard "Piano Man" or "American Pie" you had heard it only twice before, not five hundred times?

Absolutely. But that dosen't change the quality of the work itself. For about three years in my early twenties, I avoided top 40 and classic rock radio like the plague, listening only to college radio, and tapes in the car and records at home. I started dating Pips, who liked rock and roll, but wasn't that knowledgeable about it. That weekend the local station was having a "Top 1000 of all time countdown" and you know what? Maybe part of it was the fun of telling Pips all the lore behind the songs, but even some of the hoariest of those old warhorses like "Mississippi Queen," & "Tush" sounded great again. Getting distance is good, agreed. I still never, ever need to hear "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes," again, though.

And I never cared much for "Time In A Bottle," either. "Operator," was the money song.
posted by jonmc at 6:31 AM on July 26, 2004


When I was in my teens, I never thought I'd get burnt-out on the Beatles, but even though I still think they did some great work, I don't care to hear them again...

Thanks for clearing-up the question of who did "The Entertainer," Jon. That makes maybe three Joel songs I like(d), none for Chapin...
posted by StOne at 6:41 AM on July 26, 2004


I'm sure I've forgotten many of the filler tunes on Croce's albums, but I can't think of any I hated. He did have a knack for the hook. I can remember stuff like "Rapid Roy (That Stock Car Boy)" and "Workin' At The Carwash Blues," but I guess my alltime fav was "I've Got A Name." I'm no longer such a fan, however.
posted by StOne at 6:46 AM on July 26, 2004


never thought I'd get burnt-out on the Beatles, but even though I still think they did some great work, I don't care to hear them again...

Picasso, Schmicasso.
posted by digaman at 6:49 AM on July 26, 2004


Even if you're burned out on Croce's songs which got a lot of airplay (and it's been long enough, you ought to be over that), Croce had plenty of good material which didn't get on the radio that much. I've always been partial to "King's Song".

Also, not that it's relevant to his prowess as a songwriter, but I always liked his rendition of Rudyard Kipling's "Gunga Din." Other than Leslie Fish, I'm not aware of too many others who have done covers of Kipling's work.
posted by tdismukes at 6:53 AM on July 26, 2004


I like Croce and Chapin partly because they were good, and partly out of sentimentality because I was about eight years old and my parents really liked both of them a lot (along with Mclean). It was the last music I really shared with my parents—my dad swerved to country shortly thereafter.

Well, I know what I'm going to listen to this morning.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:10 AM on July 26, 2004


It's late, but I'd like to throw my vote with y2karl also -- and make a gagging gesture at the mention of the singer a friend of mine used to call "Jim Crotchy." Good heavens, people, you can't believe what it was like having to listen to every wedding band in the world play "Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown" for at least two decades. And have you heard the Frank Sinatra version? Croce definitely had something in the way of talent, but as a cultural phenomenon of his time, he was annoying.
posted by Faze at 7:24 AM on July 26, 2004


it's been long enough, you ought to be over that

But prolonged exposure to soft rock is damaging to developing brains. It has been proven that impressionable young children soak up the earnest drippy singer-songwriter dronings, felt cowboy hats, and droopy moustaches and indelibly associate them with dreary suburban existence, repetitive sports announcements, and that time they puked all over the back seat of the car so bad the family has to breathe through cupped hands all the way to the beach.
posted by dydecker at 7:39 AM on July 26, 2004


I'm not aware of too many others who have done covers of Kipling's work.

Billy Bragg covered A Pict Song
posted by yerfatma at 8:12 AM on July 26, 2004


But prolonged exposure to soft rock is damaging to developing brains.
it's true...look at me : >
posted by amberglow at 8:14 AM on July 26, 2004


Jim Croce wrote some absolutely amazing songs -- if I could write one song as perfect as "Operator," I'd be thrilled -- but that particular brand of corniness sounds dated these days. t hasn't aged all that well.

There isn't a place for songs like "Time In A Bottle" in a post-punk Britneyfied world, except of course on the fringes, where let's face it, everything's welcome.

But Croce had a charm and no small amount of talent. (In comparison, and I hate to say this about my Long Island homeboy, but Chapin was a hack, and not in the Taxi way neither.)
posted by chicobangs at 8:21 AM on July 26, 2004


All I remember of Croce is hearing a lot of his stuff on Top 40 when I was a kid, and, especially, seeing animated versions of his songs on the Sonny and Cher show. I never saw his perform and didn't know about his rougher, less makish side.

That said, the only time I have ever outright sobbed over a song was when a friend of a friend sang "Gunga Din" at a cookout a few years ago. I knew bits of the poem and had a vague idea of the setting, but hearing the whole thing hit me hard. If that was Croce's version, he did good.
posted by maudlin at 10:58 AM on July 26, 2004


i played in a wedding band for years. if i never again hear "Operator", "Time In A Bottle", or "Bad Leroy Brown" again it will be too soon for me, but that man could sure deliver a song!
posted by quonsar at 11:14 AM on July 26, 2004


first, mayor, Harry did a lot of great things, like working with World Hunger Year, but aside from "Cat's In The Cradle," "Taxi" and "WOLD" he was fairly pedestrian and kinda mawkish, IMO.

Later, I don't care for Jim Croce.

You could've ended your post there. But apparently it seems to bother you that other people do.


You were running down Chapin as a lightweight there, jon. All I did was say I didn't like Croce and give the circumstances as to why.



but they didn't make an ostentatious display of themselves and their hipster emiritus "cred" in the process...

That weekend the local station was having a "Top 1000 of all time countdown" and you know what? Maybe part of it was the fun of telling Pips all the lore behind the songs...

*cough*
posted by y2karl at 11:28 AM on July 26, 2004


You were running down Chapin as a lightweight there, jon. All I did was say I didn't like Croce and give the circumstances as to why.

Be honest.You also implied that the only reason anyone could like him was because of the cult of personality spawned by his death:

One can be romantic about such people only if one is not old enough to remember them in the context of their life, death , hype, re-hype, over-hype, re-overhype and rehyped overhype followed by yearly volleys of the K-Tel collection bombardment.

I said I didn't like Chapin based on his work and didn't imply ignorance on the Mayor's part because he did.
posted by jonmc at 11:36 AM on July 26, 2004


I was raised on Jim Croce and Paul Simon, and Croce is way undervalued as a songwriter.

That said, I can't stand "Time in a Bottle"...the tone with which he sang the first line, along with the opening guitar figure, sounds so pretentious and forced and capital-A Artistic. I think of "Time in a Bottle" as his "Dock of the Bay" -- it was a mediocre, quiet, reflective song (compared with the rest of his work), re-released by his record label to capitalize on his sudden, unexpected death. It became a hit more because of listeners' sentimentality than its merits as a song. (Now, I love Otis, and the above shouldn't be interpreted as a slam against him. And this may be a whole 'nother thread entirely, but "Dock of the Bay" is in no way his best song, and he deserves to be remembered for better work than that.)

When I was oh, maybe eight or ten years old, I loved songs like "Roller Derby Queen", "Workin' at the Carwash Blues", "Top Hat Bar and Grille", and "Walkin' Back to Georgia." But then when I was fourteen or so, I discovered "Hey Tomorrow" and the ultimate unrequited-love mix-tape closer, "I'll Have to Say 'I Love You' in a Song." Great, great stuff.

Yeah, Big Jim got his hat
Found out where it's at
Don't go hustling people strange to you
Even if you do got a two-piece custom-made pool cue.

posted by Vidiot at 11:39 AM on July 26, 2004


Some day, an evil scientist (possibly Yacub from the Nation of Islam's teachings) will successfully cross a "your favorite band sucks" comment with an "I don't care for fat people" comment.

Then the UN will have to come in and sort this place out.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:52 AM on July 26, 2004


I said I didn't like Chapin based on his work and didn't imply ignorance on the Mayor's part because he did.

I was describing what it was like to be inundated by his music and then schlock ads for schlock collections of his music after his death. I find him trite and pedestrian but your mileage may vary. This is a singer sadly missed by some and rarely remembered only by Alzheimer patients--no one else has forgotten him. Nobody implied ignorance on your part, jon, except you, just now. You see insult where none was given. Jesus, you have a chip on your shoulder.
posted by y2karl at 12:28 PM on July 26, 2004


Hey, thanks for the head's up about A.J. Croce!
posted by dejah420 at 12:45 PM on July 26, 2004


Jesus, you have a chip on your shoulder.

Bwah-ha-ha-ha! Oh, the irony! *wipes tear from eye*
posted by keswick at 1:41 PM on July 26, 2004


His career, in my recollection, amounted to very little until he died.

His wife had a great interview several years back discussing his life. Many 60's legends jammed at his farm frequently, which is the location of the first link’s picture. Iirc There is a story of who was in the room with him while it was taken. As a musician, the legends whom were his friends point you towards his greatness.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:53 PM on July 26, 2004


In my Junior High School time, an ambitious music teacher decreed that 64 adolescent and pre-adolescent males and females should sing "Time in a Bottle" . So they did.

I didn't even know enough to mock it. Many did - I'm sure.

But, those hadn't weathered time....in a bottle! Never enough of it. Dole it out sparingly (especially in love), and stuff your pockets - full of loose change - for desperate late night drunken phone calls.

Those were good lessons to learn - even now - and somehow the memory of a chorus of teens - mostly still oblivious to time - crooning out a joke they'll realize in decades to come (if ever) gives me pause.

I thought I could look at Croce's face in photos and just know that he was funnier than the business end of a Yak inserted into the middle of a noveau rich society event concerning liberal guilt.

He fell right onto the cheese plate and so died - all were so enthralled, they missed the point.
posted by troutfishing at 6:54 PM on July 26, 2004


The point was - in fact - that a bit of the soul force which properly belonged to the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, had strayed, had been fractured off from the main soul-body......and that this soul force, expressed as Jim Croce, was - in a secret ceremony lasting many days that claimed the life at least one of the participants, called back from it's far exile as an emergent American pop star .

And so the operator - who never calls twice but is not Tibetan - yanked back the dime that was Croce, to leave us forever on hold.
posted by troutfishing at 7:35 PM on July 26, 2004


I don't know what you just said, but that's beautiful, man...
posted by Vidiot at 10:05 PM on July 26, 2004


So, troutfishing, are we talking about Jim Croce or Jesus Christ here ? I don't want to run the guy down but that is major grade inflation, if not a dead fish slap in the face of Tibetan Buddhism. I can see people talking about Elvis in religious language and imagery but Jim Croce ? Puh-leeze.

Other people get from Croce what I don't, however, so I don't want to trash the guy in escalating increments because I've been on the other end of that. He was not untalented and obviously has loyal aficionados. I'll stick with calling him a second string singer, but, beyond that, I abjure any other subsequent pejoration towards him herein. He just was never to my taste and mostly what I meant to do above was convey what the experience of hearing someone not to one's taste on Top 40 radio when that someone was ubiquitous. Jim Croce set some records for market saturation for some months after his death--he was ubiquitous on the air waves in that time.

Top 40 radio offered a small set of choices and a rigid rotation of the top few hits every hour. For music on AM radio then, you had a choice of Top 40, Country & Western, Easy Listening--more the Ray Conniff Singers than Rat Pack swingers, there--and maybe an R&B station in a very few cities. Otherwise, Top 40 was it. Everything got played on the same format, from soul to country & western, which was more cool in theory than practice--because if there was a song you didn't care for, chances were you might hear it many times more than you wanted, once of twice or more an hour, often for weeks on end. It was something more than a neighbor who played Madonna alot.

People who come upon songs from that era in retrospect don't realize what it was like to live through them at the time. Like it or not, you were going to have songs you didn't want to hear etched in your brain. Even if you liked a song or singer, you got tired of the repetition fast and if a singer or song was not to your taste, repeated exposure only deepened the initial distaste in every instance. Deepened and deepened and deepened.

Songs are part of our memories--we heard this song when we first fell in love or that one over our seventeenth summer. For those of us old enough to experience the format, Top 40 radio gave the gift that kept on giving: songs that make you want to throw the radio out the window, even after all these years. The Lemonpipers' My Green Tambourine is one of those songs for me. A number of other songs with similar effect have been mentioned already in this thread--Piano Man, for one. One among several...
posted by y2karl at 11:07 PM on July 26, 2004


Oriole Adams,

What was that Ontario AM station? I live in the Detroit area too and would like to check it out .....
posted by blucevalo at 9:01 AM on July 27, 2004


y2karl - Are you forgetting that Tibet had an indigenous tradition of political repression and torture which predated the China occupation ?

Relax ! - that was just a little bit of late nite fantastical fiction, and also a bit of a sendup on the deification of pop stars.

In any case, as well, i suspect that the truest spirit of Tibetan Buddhism would laugh at the fish slap and bow, deeply....and then, without skipping a beat, move right along to the next one.

My main intended points were - 1) Croce did a good job of packaging good workaday wisdom within his precisely crafted pop cheese 3-minute packages, 2) he probably had quite a tongue - propelled by caustic sensibilities which he understood wouldn't sell songs and, 3) Croce certainly had some raw emotional pain - borne out of life experience to draw on (or did a great job of faking it) - most do eventually, of course, but some feel or notice that more, or simply have the ability to express it in catchy top 10 tunes that attach themselves to people's heads like lampreys.

My initial point, though, lay in the truly impressive spectacle of a large chorus of seventh graders singing "Time in a Bottle".

And so - "People who come upon songs from that era in retrospect don't realize what it was like to live through them at the time." : I did indeed live through them at the time - first when the song first came out and then, later, when forced to sing, it in all of it's splendor - as one in a warbly crooning chorus of thirteen year olds.
posted by troutfishing at 11:05 AM on July 27, 2004


"Beth I hear you calling
Oh Beth, what can I do?"

And how 'bout that scourge of the airwaves, Steve Miller?

Deliberately changing the subject...

posted by StOne at 11:22 AM on July 27, 2004


And how 'bout that scourge of the airwaves, Steve Miller?

Probably the best example of a talented artist destroyed by overplay.

simply have the ability to express it in catchy top 10 tunes that attach themselves to people's heads like lampreys.

Writing songs like that, whether they actually make the top 10 or not, is an art, trout, my man.

*dances away singing "I Want You Back"*
posted by jonmc at 11:59 AM on July 27, 2004


jonmc - I totally agree. I love sleazily, perfectly crafted pop tunes. Cheesy, opaque, whatever. I'm ever a sucker -as long as they're tight and the hooks works. The fav that pops into my head at this moment is Elvis Costello's "Beyond Belief" :

"History repeats the old conceits, the glib replies, the same defeats - Keep your finger on important issues, With crocodile tears and a pocketful of tissues....."

Then, there's Dylan. He doesn't quite fit here. Regardless, -

"Now, the roving gambler was very bored
Trying to create the next world war
And he found a promoter who nearly fell on the floor
He said "I've never engaged in this kind of thing before
But, yes, I think it can be very easily done.
We'll just put some bleachers out in the sun
and have it out on Highway 61"


There is some dispute over the exact lyrics of this song...

It's out of place, too, in this thread. But where did Dylan ever fit in ?

"Black Diamond Bay" might fit. It's long though.

A really good pop tune is shorter :

"Lollipop lollipop
Oh lolli lolli lolli
Lollipop lollipop....."
posted by troutfishing at 1:06 PM on July 27, 2004


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