Sunday, July 21, 2013

Meaner Than a Junkyard Dog

Billboard Hit Singles July 21, 1973

1. Jim Croce : Bad Bad Leroy Brown
2. Billy Preston : Will It Go Round in Circles
3. The Carpenters : Yesterday Once More
4. Three Dog Night : Shambala
5. Paul Simon : Kodachrome

Jim Croce finally convinced himself he made it the day he slung a guitar strap over his shoulder and stood up to perform in concert.  Those days of getting assaulted by a drunk in a Pennsylvania bar were behind him.

"When the fights started, " he told Billboard Magazine "you wanted to be able to put down your guitar and dive behind the bar in a flash. Playing with a strap on slows you down too much."

Nothing was slowing down Jim Croce. A year after the released of You Don't Mess Around with Jim produced two hit singles in "Operator ( #17) and the title track ( #8), Croce put out Life And Times featuring "Speedball Tucker" and his #1 hit "Bad Bad Leroy Brown".

 It could be argues this is just a re-write of "You Don't Mess Around With Jim" but Croce often said there really was a Leroy Brown, a soldier he met when they were both stationed at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

 This is a song about a guy I was in the army with... It was at Fort Dix, in New Jersey, that I met this guy. He was not made to climb the tree of knowledge, as they say, but he was strong, so nobody'd ever told him what to do, and after about a week down there he said "Later for this" and decided to go home. So he went AWOL, which means to take your own vacation, and he did. But he made the mistake of coming back at the end of the month to get his paycheck. I don't know if you've ever seen handcuffs put on anybody, but it was SNAP and that was the end of it for a good friend of mine, who I wrote this tune about, named Leroy Brown.

Croce would not be able to enjoy his success for long; He was killed when his chartered plane crashed into a tree soon after takeoff on September 20, 1973.

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