I Got A Name

Jim Croce

ABC, 1973

http://jimcroce.com

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/14/2022

The cover of Jim Croce’s last album, I Got A Name, shows Croce in a tanktop undershirt, smoking a cigar. In a lot of ways, that picture is the epitome of Croce’s blue-collar persona; he had struggled for a long time to get noticed, and was just starting to enjoy consistent success when he was killed in a plane crash in September of 1973. I Got A Name was released a month and a half later, on December 1, and left his fans both elated and deeply sorrowful.

This was the beginning of a branching-out for Croce; one song, “Salon and Saloon”, was backed with a single piano (Croce was known better for his guitar playing), and another song, one of the album’s biggest hits and the title track, wasn’t written by Croce. But even now, almost fifty years later, this album holds up, and holds up well.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The chart hits on I Got A Name – the title track, “I’ll Have To Say I Love You In A Song”, and “Workin’ At The Car Wash Blues” – are all solid, and in the case of “I’ll Have To Say” exemplary. There is one disappointment as well: “Top Hat Bar & Grille” sounds like a weaker imitation of “Bad Bad Leroy Brown”. (I suppose, if one is going to steal a song, stealing one’s own is at least the most ethical way to go about it.)

The real gems, however, are in the other tracks. “Thursday” and “Age” are slice-of-life songs about heartbreak, loss, and redemption. “Five Short Minutes” is a wickedly funny tune about why one shouldn’t indulge in groupies. (Think of it as the reality behind Grand Funk Railroad’s “American Band”).

And then – “The Hard Way Every Time” and “Lover’s Cross”.

Fair disclaimer: both of these songs are deeply personal to me. “The Hard Way Every Time” is my life; the story of a man who did it “the hard way every time” and still managed to succeed on some level. And “Lover’s Cross” – well, just read:

“You really gotta hand it to ya
'Cause girl you really tried
But for every time that we spent laughin'
There were two times that I cried
And you were tryin' to make me your martyr
And that's the one thing I just couldn't do
'Cause baby, I can't hang upon no lover's cross for you”…

There it is – the song for every man who ever tried to come to someone’s rescue and found there to be too much to carry.

I Got A Name is, simply, a work of maturity, grace, and insight. We lost something very special on a rainy night in September of 1973; all we can do now is treasure what little we have.

Rating: A-

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