Ingrid, you've lived such a fascinating life and you write about it so well in yourautobiographical cookbook Thyme in a Bottle. Would you share some stories or anecdotes with usabout Jim Croce, his music and those early years?I love telling stories about Jim Croce, because in remembering him, I can't help but smile. Yousee, fans who believe their "hero" Jim Croce was bigger than life would be overlooking the veryreason so many of us remember him so dearly. Jim was so human. He was painfully vulnerable,and at the same time, passionately in love with life.
Jim Croce's motto was "If you dig it do it. If you dig it a lot do it twice." And though his time wascut short on September 29, 1973, in a plan crash in Natchitoches, Louisiana, ha had truly livedhis life with gusto.
Our lives as best friends and music partners started when I was a sixteen-year-old high schoolstudent, and Jim Croce was a junior at Villanova University, about to turn twenty. Jim and I werepassionately attracted to each other from the start. It was chemistry, I guess.
Our music brought us together at a radio station in Philadelphia where I was a folk singingcontestant and he was the judge.
Two weeks after we won our audition, the hootenanny was held at Convention Hall in Philadelphia.I was determined to look cool for Jim. I borrowed a sexy dress from an older friend Ð a tight,white sheath with a black stripe up each side. Before the show began, Jim searched me out andfound me practicing my guitar. He was dressed conservatively in a highly starched light blueoxford shirt, navy blue V-neck, and light beige jeans with pressed creases. He looked sogrown-up. Before I could catch my breath, he planted his foot firmly in his mouth and bantered."That's a nice dress you're wearing. You look like a little skunk!" Humiliated by this comment, Iwithdrew, put down my guitar and lowered my chin to my chest. Gently moving closer, Jimapologized for embarrassing me. Realizing he had also hurt my feelings, he jumped back and toldme, "You look pretty, Ing," and then, very politely, he asked me if he could play me a song.
I had no idea of the treat I was in for. He tuned my guitar then sang me a haunting traditional bluesballad called "Cotton Eyed Joe." I was mesmerized. His warm sincere voice and his music healedmy wounds. That night we won the contest and my heart was his. We were off to a great beginning.
Jim and I began dating heavily when I was a junior in high school. He was still at Villanova. Wesang together as a duo and practiced every day after school. Three years after we met andcontinued to sing together, Jim's parent's still weren't happy about our "lust" or abut theireldest son throwing away his college education to become a folk singer and marry anineteen-year-old Jewish girl who was studying to be an artist.
But, in spite of his parent's concerns, our love persisted. And after several visits to Jim's homefor family get-togethers, I wasn't going to leave. Though I was very young, my love for Jim andthe marriage of his mother's roasted garlic and peppers assured me that our union was going to bea good thing.
In Thyme in a Bottle you refer to Jim as a shy, sensitive young man who wanted to make a goodimpression on you on your first date. Would you describe your first impressions of Jim?Jim was humble, well mannered but passionate too. When we met, I felt like he was undressingme with his big, sad brown eyes. Yet, at the same time, his vulnerable demeanor assured me,whatever "designs" he had on me, I could feel very safe.
Our first practice and first date was a Sunday afternoon at my house. Jim was shy anduncomfortable when he first arrived. I answered the door casually in jeans and a baggy sweatshirtand there was Jim, standing with a guitar case in each hand, dressed stiffly in a brownthree-piece suite with a biting, starched button-down shirt. He apologized immediately for hisattire, explaining that he was just coming from his cousin Patty's wedding. Which, of course, hewas not.
Having heard that my father was a psychiatrist, he had some strange notion that if he acted weirdor dressed funny, my dad would get "the net." Of course, he was joking. (At least I think he was.)
Jim and I went to my room to practice, and the moment his guitar was in his hand, his confidencesoared and an amazing metamorphosis took place.
He told me stories of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl and Woody Guthrie. Then he taught mesome of Woody's songs. "Green Pastures of Plenty" was the first one we sang together. Our voicesblended like pasta and cream. From that moment on, making music with Jim was like makinglove.
And he was shy no more.
Anecdotes From the Early Years
From Rocky Beginnings...
The Story Behind "I'll Have to Say I Love You In a Song"
Why Jim Croce Wrote "Operator"
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