Jim Croce, Photographs & Memories: His Greatest Hits (1974)
I used to work Saturdays in a music store – all day. 10am-10pm. It was a killer shift – I’d get a two-hour break in the middle of the day, a combined lunch/dinner, you could call it a split shift I guess. I would turn up on Saturday mornings hungover. I was 21. And I would have boozed pretty hard on a Friday night. So I’d get to work at 10 on the dot and I’d be feeling pretty light in the head, pretty queasy. And the first hour would crawl. Then it’d storm by from 11ish until 3ish because it was the lunch-time trade. And it was all go. So you’d get over however you felt and just serve. Serve, serve, serve. And then there’d be a lull. I’d bunk off around 4, go grab a kip at a mate’s place in town, or watch a video, or some MTV video clips at least. Maybe order a pizza. And then I’d be back to work 6-10. This was often dreary. Anyway, this one time I was there at work. Hungover. And we didn’t have the internet then. And there was no computer system telling us what was in or out of stock. We had drawers. And they were stuffed with discs. That’s how we knew if we had something. We looked in the drawer and checked it against the alphabet. So I tried to be pleasant and all but sometimes, hungover, you struggled a bit to really sell pleasantness – even when everything else was flying out the door. So this one time a guy, older guy, goes for some Jim Croce, in that he asks me where our “section” is. I tell him if we have any it’ll be under Popular, C. And he tells me that, no, Jim Croce was not really a pop act, he was more folk. And I confirm that he would be filed in our pop section if we had anything. I then tell him that I’ll check to let him know; so he doesn’t have to look. And I do all of this in my usual way and think I’m being nice about it. But something snaps. This guy flips. And tells me in a loud voice, “bloody hell! He’s only one of the greatest writers ever. What do you mean check? Why wouldn’t you have any Jim Croce?” And as he finishes his last word and he’s crimson-y and wound right up, I get to tell him that we don’t even have a greatest hits sorry, but I can order anything for him. “Order me something?” He says. And he is mocking my voice as he says this. “Bloody ridiculous” he barks. And walks out of the shop. I figured he must have had a rough day asking around for Croce, some blank looks and some baffled young retail-workers. And I was the one that copped a bit of strange retail-rage just because I was there when he’d had enough. Thing is, when I hear Time In A Bottle now, and it ain’t all that often really, unless I’m in a doctor’s waiting room in Hawke’s Bay perhaps, I think back to this. I play out the whole scene in my head, as I’ve mapped it out for you now. The memory begins with me thinking about my Saturdays working those hours and then gets to the specific day where Jim Croce’s big Wellington fan needed a fix and got fucked off about coming up empty-handed. Thing is, Time In A Bottle plays under that action as a very suitable soundtrack. Don’t you think? Saw the album cover the other day, flipping through the rack looking for anything else. And yeah, this is what I thought about.
Sample Track: Bad, Bad Leroy Brown
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