I Got a Name

jim croce

Jim Croce

Today is Saturday, June 8, 2013.

Jim Croce was born in 1943 in South Philadelphia, PA.  He was interested in music from an early age, but went to Villanova University, where he majored in psychology and minored in German.  After his graduation, his parents provided financial backing  ($500, a wedding present that his parents stipulated had to be used for the album) for his first album, called Facets, which came out in 1966.  Only 500 copies of the album were made, and his parents hoped that it would fail so that he would use his university education to pursue a “respectable profession.”  Unfortunately for his parents, and fortunately for us, every copy of that album sold.

In September 1973, Croce was on his way from one concert venue to another, aboard a small plane that was carrying several other musicians and concert promoters.  On takeoff, his pilot clipped a tree that he should have seen and failed to gain altitude, so the plane crashed, killing everyone on board.  This happened just the day before his song “I Got a Name” was released as a single.  The song had been used as the theme for the movie The Last American Hero just two months previous to Croce’s death.   A posthumous album called  I Got a Name was released in December 1973.   Croce had spent a lot of time “on the road” going from gig to gig, so the song seems to fit the theme of his life.

The lyrics speak of following his dream, and this was something Croce did, instead of becoming “respectable.”  In an interview with Billboard magazine, songwriter Norman Gimbel revealed the reason Croce chose to record the song, saying, “Jim liked it because his father had a dream for him but had died before his son’s first success.”

Here is a link to the tune.

I Got a Name (Norman Gimblel/Charles Fox)

Like the pine trees lining the winding road,
I got a name, I got a name;
Like the singing bird and the croaking toad,
I got a name, I got a name.

And I carry it with me like my daddy did
But I’m living the dream that he kept hid.

Moving me down the highway, rolling me down the highway
Moving ahead so life won’t pass me by.

Like the north wind whistlin’ down the sky,
I got a song; I got a song.
Like the whippoorwill and the phoebe’s cry,
I got a song; I got a song,

And I carry it with me and I sing it loud;
If it gets me nowhere, I’ll go there proud.

Moving me down the highway, rolling me down the highway
Moving ahead so life won’t pass me by.

And I’m gonna go there free…

Like the fool I am and I’ll always be,
I got a dream, I got a dream.
They can change their minds but the can’t change me.
I got a dream, I got a dream.

Oh, I know I could share it if you want me to;
If you’re goin’ my way, I’ll go with you.

Movin’ me down the highway, rollin’ me down the highway
Movin’ ahead so life won’t pass me by.

*** *** ***

The lyrics above had “Like the whipporwill and the baby’s cry” but I have always thought it must be phoebe, the bird.  I still think that, so that’s what I typed, above.

When I got married, I did change my name, but I wasted no time in changing my name back to my maiden name after the divorce.  I “made it mine” by using the French pronunciation, rather than the Americanized version used by my father and grandfather.  Nowadays, I can’t imagine using any other name.  Like Jim Croce, I lived my life in a way that my parents couldn’t really understand, and I moved around from place to place a great many times.  “Movin’ me down the highway, rollin’ me down the highway, movin’ ahead so life won’t pass me by.”   🙂

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