“Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” went to the top of the charts the summer I was 9 years old. The 45 wound up in our house at some point not long after (though it was a reissue, because the original flip side had been swapped out for a minor hit, the awesome “One Less Set of Footsteps”). Mom got after Amy and me for singing along loudly with the chorus, saying we shouldn’t be talking like that. “But Mom, what’s wrong with ‘baddest man in the whole downtown’?”
I was vaguely aware of Jim Croce’s death in a plane crash that September when it happened. I do recall watching his wife Ingrid accept some sort of posthumous recognition on an award show–I guess the Grammies–the following year. I’ve read that he was just about ready to give up the music biz when he died; while that still would have been a loss for us, I wish he’d had that chance to decide.
This uplifting, confident piece is my favorite Croce tune. Released (as fate would have it) as a single the day after his death, it reminds me that maybe, just maybe, I should get out and chase those dreams while I still can. It’s one spot short of its #10 peak.