Time to recommend another book. When you're a pro you review; when you're an amateur you recommend. "I Got a Name, The Jim Croce Story" written by Jim's wife Ingrid and her husband, Jimmy Rock, was published in 2012 by Da Capo Press. September 20th will be the 40th anniversary of Jim's death at 30, hence the book's just under 300 page length is not surprising. Also, it's not a cradle to the grave bio. Jim's difficult road to fame, his relationship with Ingrid, whom he met in 1963 and married in 1966, and the stories behind the songs make this a very interesting read for Croce fans. Ingrid points out in the epilogue, however, that this book is not an idealized version of her time with Jim. I'd agree.
Throughout the book, lyrics are provided for the song Jim wrote at that time in his life. At the back you'll find 5 pages of song credits. The book's foreword is written by Arlo Guthrie and the jacket includes testimonials from Randy Newman, Dolly Parton, Stevie Wonder and Jimmy Buffett. You'll remember or learn that:
On May 25, 1965 he joined the national guard. "Operator" was based on calling Ingrid from a pay phone outside the PX at Fort Jackson, SC. After being assigned to the "dumbbell" platoon, he met Sgt. Leroy Brown who told Jim that "when all them bad peoples get together, they all call me boss".
"New York's Not My Home" is based on his troubled year in New York. JC signed away exclusive publishing, production and management rights because he was too trusting of an old buddy. He signed without reading the fine print or understanding the contract.
Back in PA, stock car racing buddies inspired Rapid Roy (that stock car boy). Read the stories behind "Time in a Bottle", "You Don't Mess Around with Jim", "Photographs and Memories", "I'll Have to Say I Love You in a Song" and many other Croce creations.
Jim's time in the spotlight was brief. his first commercially successful album, "You Don't Mess Around with Jim", was released in April of 1972. Roughly 18 months later, it was over. Luckily, his music lives on. More on his music in a future post.
For other music related book recommendations see my posts of 4/29/10 on Don McLean's bio and "Little Girl Blue" about the Carpenters on 1/18/11.