The singer/songwriter Jim Croce died in a plane crash in 1973. Shortly after his death, I became interested in his music. As a teenage boy growing up in 1970s America, at first I was drawn to the raucous characters he created in his songs, "Bad Bad Leroy Brown," "You Don't Mess Around with Jim," "Speedball Tucker," and the like. It was later that I started to appreciate the quality of his voice in softer tunes such as, "I'll Have to say I Love You in a Song" and "Time in a Bottle."
I recently started listening to a number of Croce's recordings. The live-in-concert variety were quite eye-opening. A storyteller in word as well as song, Croce would introduce his songs with stories about the circumstances that led to his writing the songs. Croce was very nearly a stand-up comedian in the way he delivered those stories. I was strongly reminded of the delivery style of Bill Cosby.
Croce's pre-performance comments suggest a man of intellect and intuition. He was a keen observer of the human condition, creating stories and characters out of an understanding of two things: 1) The love that defines so many of our relationships and 2) people like to let their hair down. Thus, Croce is two artists in one. One who tugs at our heart strings, one that understands that we like to rock.