Jim Croce

You don't mess around with Jim

Year: 1972
Label: ABC Records
Location: Creek Road at Highspire Road | 
 | USA | PA

The cover photo for the album «You Don’t Mess Around with Jim» was taken in an old barn behind a house in Lyndell, Chester County, Pennsylvania. This house, known as the Farmhouse, was the home of Jim Croce and his family at the time. They moved there in 1970, leaving the hectic life of New York behind. The family lived in apartment number 7 on the side of the house, where Croce wrote his songs and where his son was born.

The house became a meeting place for renowned artists such as Bonnie Raitt, Jimmy Buffett, Randy Newman and James Taylor, who would visit Croce there. This simple, rural lifestyle reinforced Croce’s image as a humble and approachable person.

The house and its surroundings became an important place for Croce’s fans after his death. Festivals have been organized in the garden next to the house in his honor.

Album info

The album "You Don't Mess Around With Jim" is considered Jim Croce's finest album, and one of the greatest Folk albums of the 1970s. The title track, "You Don't Mess Around With Jim", is a classic Wild West style track with pulsating percussion, simple acoustic arrangements, and Jim's recognizable North/South singing accent. A common motif of this album is cautious optimism, with many of Croce's lyrics discussing sad situations with a small touch of optimistic thought. Despite the strong performance of the posthumous single "Time in a Bottle" (#1 pop, No. 1 AC), "You Don't Mess Around with Jim" was the best-selling album in the U.S. for five weeks in early 1974.

Jim Croce


Jim Croce was born on January 10, 1943, in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Italian American parents, James Albert Croce and Flora Mary Babusci Croce. Despite some sources indicating 1942 as his birth year, Croce was raised in Upper Darby Township, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Upper Darby High School in 1960. He then attended Malvern Preparatory School for a year before enrolling at Villanova University, where he majored in psychology and minored in German.

During his time at Villanova, Croce discovered his passion for music. He became a leader of the Villanova Singers, performed in several bands, and played at fraternity parties, coffeehouses, and universities around Philadelphia. Croce was also a member of the Villanova Spires, known as The Coventry Lads when performing off-campus or recording. Additionally, he worked as a student disc jockey at WKVU, which later became WXVU. Croce graduated from Villanova in 1965 with a Bachelor of Science in Social Studies.

Career Beginnings Croce's first album, "Facets," was released in 1966, financed by a $500 wedding gift from his parents. The album was a surprise success, with all 500 copies sold. Croce married Ingrid Jacobson in 1966, converting to Judaism for her, and they performed as a duo until the early 1970s. They moved to New York City in 1968 and recorded their first album with Capitol Records, driving over 300,000 miles to promote it on the college concert circuit.

Disillusioned by the music business and city life, the Croces returned to Pennsylvania, settling in Lyndell. Croce took odd jobs while continuing to write songs and perform at local bars and truck stops. In 1970, Croce met Maury Muehleisen, and the two began collaborating, with Muehleisen adding lead guitar to Croce's music.

Rise to Fame In 1972, Croce signed a three-record contract with ABC Records, releasing two albums, "You Don't Mess Around with Jim" and "Life and Times." His singles received airplay, and he began appearing on television, including American Bandstand, The Tonight Show, and The Dick Cavett Show. Croce's biggest single, "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown," reached No. 1 on the American charts in July 1973.

Tragic Death On September 20, 1973, while on tour and the day before his single "I Got a Name" was released, Croce and five others were killed in a plane crash. He was 30 years old. An investigation concluded that the pilot's failure to see an obstruction due to physical impairment and fog was the probable cause of the crash.

Legacy Croce's posthumous releases included the album "I Got a Name" and the single "Time in a Bottle," which became his second and final No. 1 hit. In 1990, Croce was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2012, Ingrid Croce published a memoir about him entitled "I Got a Name: The Jim Croce Story." In 2022, a Pennsylvania Historical Marker was installed outside his farmhouse in Lyndell to honor his legacy.

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