Glacier National Park, but I also tend to sing as I hike along. If you were to be on the trail ahead and suddenly heard someone singing the entire catalog of Jim Croce songs, well, you and the bears are about to run into me. So far, I've encountered bears twice, but no bear attacks! Thanks Jim.
The Grand Teton EncounterThe reason I know all of Jim Croce's songs is because he is my guru.
What seems like a century ago, my Mom asked me to go pick up the big bro from a class he was taking at UT El Paso. I got there early and so sat at a student lounge in the building and it just so happened to have a TV playing some musician talking about a song. He was a guy with a big mane of curly hair, mustache and a big nose (I was a short-haired teenybopper) so I wrote him off as a hippie freak of some sort. I was a straight-laced guy who more likely took after my conservative Dad rather than my psych-major, pinko brother (politically, we changed places as we aged).
Something about the guy got me to start to listen to him though. Maybe it was the smooth voice or friendly attitude. Soon I became intrigued by the little tale he spun about a truck driver. After the story, he began to play his guitar and sing and it seemed to strike a nerve in the back of my mind.
My brother shortly got out of class, so I didn't get to hear more, but oddly, this guy remained a fixture in the recesses of my subconscious. After all, as a kid influenced by his parents instead of his brother, I was more likely to listen to Andy Williams (I still love his rendition of "Exodus") and Frank Sinatra than the Beatles or Dylan. In other words, I made no attempt to figure out who was the singer/songwriter I had just been mesmerized by at UTEP.
Years later, after I began to follow my own path musically and philosophically, I came realize that I had fallen under the spell of Jim Croce.
I eventually acquired every single song he wrote. I had them on cassette, vinyl and cd. I also bought all his music videos (they were on one DVD). It was when I played those videos that it suddenly dawned on me that it had been Jim Croce who entranced me on that TV all those years ago. What really struck me though was the realization that I probably saw him on The Tube that day only a short time before his death in a tragic plane accident not far from El Paso.
Maury Muehleisen, who played and toured with Croce, also died in the accident
Jim Croce became my Guru a short time later when I adopted his "The Hard Way Every Time" as my mantra. The philosophy behind it felt so compelling I couldn't resist. It begins with a chorus that goes "I've had my share of broken dreams, and more than a couple of falls...but in looking back...I've learned the hard way every time."
However, it's the final chorus that rings most importantly: "...but in looking back at the faces I've been, I would sure be the first one to say, when I look at myself today, wouldn't of done it any other way."
I wholeheartedly follow this philosophy. No, I don't go out of my way to get into trouble or try things just to be put in peril—although I have to admit, I do try things out because I do think it might be an adventure—but it does mean that I accept my mistakes, my problems, my adventures, and know that they have shaped my life. Although I may not like what happened to me, I accept it as part of my life and my experiences.
In other words, the person I am today has been formed by all those experiences, good and bad. I like this concept because it basically helps me face those trials and tribulations I encounter. It's a more poetic way of saying what doesn't kill me makes me stronger.
Ingrid Croce. Whenever I watch them sing "Spin, Spin, Spin" I think they were a perfect couple. They look lovingly into each other's eyes, have a magical presence and, of course, harmonize beautifully. Sorry, sometimes I just get sentimental.
(We at The Thurber Brigade wish to once again apologize for the repeated use of The Donald in our last blog. It turned a lot of stomachs and we hope that this reverent and reflective essay on a great American singer/songwriter will soothe those souls damaged by the previous blog. No, we can't promise we won't do it again since crazed American voters keep voting for ----- in record numbers, but at least remember that we are concerned about your mental well-being and will do our best to calm you when needed.)