Song of the night: “Age” by Jim Croce (1973)

Image from hermitthrushes.blogspot.com

It’s impossible to explain how much Jim Croce’s music meant to me and my friends in high school. Now everyone remembers his “wacky” songs like “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” and “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim,” or maybe the mushy ones like “Time In A Bottle” or “I’ll Have To Say I Love You In A Song.”  But in his less chart-friendly songs Jim sang about issues that sailed over my head as a seventeen-year-old, but stuck with me just the same. Forty years later these truths come home to roost, as a man looking back at lessons learned and bracing himself for another go-round. The meaning changed for me like other stuff I first read at the same time.

Jim was killed in a plane crash the week of my birthday in 1973. “Stunned” doesn’t go far enough to explain how we all felt.

I’ve often said that it’s lucky that Jim Croce burst on the scene when he did. If it were today, modern radio wouldn’t know where to play him. He’s too optimistic for alternative rock stations, too straightforward and sincere for adult contemporary, too smart for “new country.” He’d never get any airplay at all. So it’s good he came around when he did.

I’ve been up and down and around and round and back again
Been so many places I can’t remember where or when
And my only boss was the clock on the wall and my only friend
Never really was a friend at all

I’ve traded love for pennies
Sold my soul for less
Lost my ideals in that long tunnel of time
And I’ve turned inside out and around about and back and then
Found myself right back where I started again

Once I had myself a million, now I only got a dime
Difference don’t seem quite as bad today
With a nickel or a million I was searching all the time
For something that I’d never lost or left behind

I’ve traded love for pennies
Sold my soul for less
Lost my ideals in that long tunnel of time
And I’ve turned inside out and around about and back and then
Found myself right back where I started again

And now I’m in my second circle and I’m heading for the top
I learned a lot of things along the way
I’ll be careful while I’m climbing ’cause it hurts a lot to drop
When you’re down, nobody gives a damn anyway

I’ve traded love for pennies
Sold my soul for less
Lost my ideals in that long tunnel of time
And I’ve turned inside out and around about and back and then
Found myself right back where I started again

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