Our Top 10 Jim Croce Songs list takes a look at a singer-songwriter who enjoyed tremendous success in the early 70s. At a time when the genre of soft rock had become incredibly popular, Jim Croce landed multiple hit singles along with fellow artists such as James Taylor, Carole King, and Jackson Browne. The early 1970s saw an abundance of artists releasing songs in the soft rock genre that balanced the line between, country, pop, easy listening and rock overtones. It could be easily argued that Jim Croce was one of the pioneers of the soft rock movement.
Jim Croce’s talent for writing great grooves, strong melodies, and personal stories that fans fell in love with showcased an artist that seemed destined for a long and fruitful career. Jim Croce was born on January 10. 1943. He hailed from the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Sadly, Jim Croce was killed in a plane crash on September 20, 1973, when he was only thirty years old. His guitarist Maury Muehleisen was also killed in the crash. At the point of his passing, Jim Croce was enjoying tremendous success on the charts and gained a reputation for composing songs of substance and commercial viability.
Most of Jim Croce’s hits were released on three albums that were issued in only a two-year period from 1971 to 1973. The albums You Don’t Mess Around with Jim (1972), Life and Times (1973) and I Got A Name (1973) were brilliant records that defined one of the most promising talents of the classic rock era. Croce released his first album Facets in 1966 and the follow-up Jim & Ingrid Croce in 1969. However, it was the three albums released between 1972 and 1973 that secured Jim Croce’s status as a rock and roll legend.
# 10 – Speedball Tucker
Opening up our Top 10 Jim Croce Songs list is one of the most unfamiliar songs in the Jim Croce catalog. Maury Muehleisen’s guitar playing was often overshadowed by Jim Croce who was a powerful songwriter and singing skills. On the radio, you couldn’t see the band and even though Jim Croce played guitar, it was Maury Muehleisen who played all those great guitar riffs on the record. Just take a listen to the licks he played in “Speedball Tucker,” and you will hear how overlooked Maury Muehleisen’s playing was.
# 9 – One Less Set Of Footsteps
The great Jim Croce song “One Less Set of Footsteps” was released on Jim Croce’s Life and Times album in 1973. The song was the albums opening track. “One Less Set of Footsteps,” was also the first single released from the album. The song reached the Billboard Top 40 peaking at the number 37 position.
# 8 – Walking Back To Georgia
Another great Jim Croce song that displayed his great guitar playing, gift for melody and most of all the personal stories that we all fell in love with. “Walking Back To Georgia,” was never a hit, but it was a very special song to many of us who loved Jim Croce in the early 1970’s. Just listen to that chorus. The line, ” She’s the girl who said she loved me,” will just melt your heart.
# 7 – You Don’t Mess Around With Jim
The song “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim,” was the title track of Jim Croce’s third album You Don’t Mess Around With Jim. The album was released in 1972. The song served as the opening track on the album. “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim,” was released as the album’s first single. The song “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim,” was a top 10 hit for Jim Croce peaking at Number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1972.
It’s amazing how pop culture is a never-ending circle that can many times reintroduce songs back into the mainstream. Many young people in the 2020s first discovered the music of Jim Croce because the song “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim,” was used in multiple episodes of the Netflix hit series Stranger Things. It was showcased as everyone’s favorite character Jim Hopper’s favorite song, which made complete sense regarding the character he played.
# 6 – Bad Bad Leroy Brown
Out of all the Jim Croce songs on this list, the great recording of “Bad Bad Leroy Brown,” may be the most memorable. This was a very successful song for Jim Croce as it received multiple Grammy Award nominations. The song was released on the Jim Croce album Life and Times. The record was issued in 1973. The song “Bad Bad Leroy Brown,” was a number 1 record reaching the number one position on the Billboard Top 100 in 1973. It was also one of the most popular songs of the years. Piano players loved the opening piano lick that was learned by millions of keyboardists both amateur and pro. Elton John got a run for his money on this one.
# 5 – Time In A Bottle
Rating the next batch of Jim Croce songs was nearly impossible. On any given day this order could change. In the end, all we really care about is celebrating these amazing Jim Croce songs one more time. “Time in A Bottle,” was released on the You Don’t Mess Around With Jim album in 1972. The song Time In A Bottle was written by Jim Croce. The song hit number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1973.
# 4 – Photographs And Memories
The song “Photographs and Memories,” was the B side to the single “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim. “ However the beauty of the song has just grown even more special after all these years. This is such a tender song. The guitar work is fabulous and the melody is just breathtaking. The title of the song was also used as the title to Jim Croce’s best-selling Greatest Hits album.
# 3 – I Got A Name
As we start to wind down our Jim Croce Songs list, the last three songs define the sound of the early 1970s and the beauty of Jim Croce’s work. The song “I Got A Name,” was released on the I Got A Name LP. The I Got A Name album was the last official Jim Croce album released before all the greatest hits packages and compilations began to be issued by ABC Records. The album featured the last song Jim Croce ever wrote entitled “Salon and Saloon.”
# 2 – I’ll Have To Say I Love You In A Song
The beautiful and tender ballad “I’ll Have To Say I Love You In A Song,” was released on the final Jim Croce album I Got A Name. The song “I’ll Have To Say I Love You In A Song,” was released as the second single from the album after the album’s first single “I Got A Name.” It is one of the most covered Jim Croce songs in his catalog. The song reached number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1974.
# 1 – Operator
Closing out our Top 10 Jim Croce songs list is the heartbreaking song “Operator.” Every time one hears the track, one can’t help but feel the pain of the disconnected number and the search for that one that got away. The song’s beauty and heartbreak is as bittersweet as it gets. Released on the You Don’t Mess Around with Jim album. It was the album’s second single. The song peaked at number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Jim Croce Songs that we also love.
“New York’s Not My Home”
“Working At The Car Wash Blues”
“Five Short Minutes”
“Tomorrow’s Gonna Be a Brighter Day”
“Hard Time Losin’ Man”
“Another Day, Another Town”
UPDATED APRIL 11, 2023
Top 10 Jim Croce Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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