The annals of music history are full of artists cut down in their prime. John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Andrew Wood, the list is entirely too long, and the world is poorer for the music they never got to make. One can only imagine what Jim Croce might have written if he hadn’t died at 30 in a plane crash, heading from one university gig to another.Despite his untimely death, Croce contributed an outsize number of perfect songs, and Photographs and Memories has the best of the lot.
As a youngster in the 70s, I grew up with Croce’s music in the background on the kitchen AM radio, in the car, on jukeboxes… almost by osmosis, I knew all the songs on Photographs and Memories by heart before I picked it up a few years ago. I went years without really thinking about Jim Croce’s music at all, except when I’d catch a reference to lyrics from “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” or “Don’t Mess Around with Jim.”
Having re-acquainted myself with Croce, though, I wouldn’t hesitate to add this one to my 100 “desert island discs.”
Croce does love songs, breakup songs, rowdy songs, and introspective masterpieces. “Time in a Bottle” still takes my breath away every time I listen to it, and I’ve surely heard it hundreds of times by now.
Photographs and Memories belongs in every record collection, at least in my humble opinion. If you’re new to Croce, do yourself a favor and check him out. Even though his sound is solidly 70s, the songs hold up incredibly well.