About the song
If you are a fan of classic rock, you might have heard of Jim Croce, a singer-songwriter who had a string of hits in the early 1970s, such as “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown”, “Time in a Bottle” and “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim”. But did you know that one of his most popular songs, “I Got a Name”, was not written by him and was released posthumously the day after his tragic death in a plane crash? In this blog post, we will explore the story and meaning behind this song, which became a symbol of Croce’s legacy and spirit.
“I Got a Name” was the theme song for the 1973 movie The Last American Hero, starring Jeff Bridges as a stock car racer. The movie is based on the true story of the stock car driver Junior Johnson. The song was written by Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox, who were also responsible for Roberta Flack’s hit “Killing Me Softly”. They offered the song to Croce, who liked it and recorded it in June 1973. According to his wife Ingrid, Croce felt a connection to the song because his father had a dream for him, but died before Jim’s first success .
Croce recorded the song without his guitar, which was unusual for him. He delivered the vocal in two takes, with his producers Terry Cashman and Tommy West encouraging him to “lose the crutch” and sing solo. The result was a powerful and heartfelt performance that showcased Croce’s unique voice and warmth .
The song was released as a single on September 21, 1973, but Croce never got to enjoy its success. On September 20, he performed it as an encore at a show in Natchitoches, Louisiana. After the show, he boarded a small plane that crashed shortly after takeoff, killing him and five others on board .
The song became a hit, reaching #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. It also became the title track of Croce’s fifth and final album, which was released in December 1973. The song resonated with many listeners who admired Croce’s determination and optimism in the face of adversity. It also inspired many cover versions by artists such as Maureen McGovern, Glen Campbell, Dean Martin and Iggy Pop.
In 2012, the song gained new exposure when it was featured in Quentin Tarantino’s film Django Unchained, which introduced Croce to a new generation of fans. The song remains one of Croce’s finest moments and a testament to his talent and spirit.