Search This Blog

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

December 29, 1973

Here it is...the final Tuesday Timeline of 2015!  And, for this entry, I thought we'd add a musical twist to this blog. 

But before we get into the celebration of song, I thought, as always, we should have a look at who's getting older, and what happened on this date in history.

It's December 29.  What happened on this date?

1170 - The Archbishop of Canterbury - Thomas Becket - is assassinated by followers of King Henry II

1778 - Savannah, Georgia is captured by three thousand British soldiers under the leadership of Lieutenant Colonel Archibald Campbell during the American Revolutionary War

1808 - The 17th President of the United States, Andrew Johnson (d. 1875) is born in Raleigh, North Carolina

1845 - The Republic of Texas officially becomes the twenty-eighth state to enter the United States of America

1851 - The first YMCA opens in Boston, Massachusetts

1890 - The Wounded Knee Massacre on Pine Ridge Reservation takes place, which sees 300 Lakota killed by the United States 7th Cavalry Regiment

1911 - Mongolia gains independence from the Qing Dynasty

1916 - James Joyce's first novel "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" is published

1939 - The first flight of the Consolidated B-24 Liberator takes place

1940 - Two hundred lose their lives in London when the Luftwaffe fire-bombs parts of the city during World War II

1959 - Physicist Richard Feynman delivers his "There's Plenty Of Room At The Bottom" speech

1972 - Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 crashes on approach to Miami, killing 101 passengers aboard the plane

1975 - Eleven people are killed and another 74 are injured following a bomb going off at LaGuardia Airport in New York

1997 - Hong Kong starts to kill the nation's chicken population to stop the spread of a deadly strain of influenza

2001 - A fire erupts inside of a Lima, Peru shopping plaza, killing almost three hundred people

2003 - "Home Improvement" actor Earl Hindman passes away at the age of 61

2013 - At least eighteen people die when a suicide bomber attacks a railway station in Volgograd, Russia

As for celebrity birthdays, the list of people blowing out candles today is quite a long one.  Happy birthday to Dina Merrill, Mary Tyler Moore, Barbara Steele, Jon Voight, Marianne Faithfull, Ted Danson, Jon Polito, Yvonne Elliman, Fred MacAulay, Brad Grey, Paul Rudnick, Patricia Clarkson, Paula Poundstone, Liisa Savijarvi, Ashleigh Banfield, Jennifer Ehle, Glen Phillips, Kevin Weisman, Jude Law, Mekhi Phifer, Shawn Hatosy, Katherine Moennig, LaToya London, Diego Luna, Alison Brie, Jessica Andrews, Alexa Ray Joel, Left Brain, Jane Levy, Ross Lynch, and Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick.

Okay, so here's the question.  What year are we going back in time to this week?

Well, according to my calendar, we're going back to the 1970s.  December 29, 1973, that is.

So, what sorts of things happened in 1973?  Well, the energy crisis was still causing people to line up at gas pumps all over the world.  Holly Marie Combs, Tyra Banks, and Seth Meyers were only days old.  And for people who loved the taste of beer but hated the calories it added on, Miller Lite was first produced this year!

But 1973 was also the year in which a rising star in the music world died just as his star was starting to rise.  In fact, it was on December 29, 1973 that he scored his second and final #1 hit - two months after his death.

Let's have a listen to the song in question.  We'll talk about it later.

ARTIST:  Jim Croce
SONG:  Time in a Bottle
ALBUM:  You Don't Mess Around With Jim
DATE RELEASED:  November 1973

This song was definitely a very powerful song, not to mention a bit ironic.  This song wasn't intended to be released as a single at all, but following Jim Croce's death, the single - which was heard at the end of a 1973 television movie entitled "She Lives!" - received a lot of airplay, and demand for a single release increased.  A 7" single was released in November, and by December the song had hit #1, remaining there until it was dethroned by "The Joker" by the Steve Miller Band in January 1974.

Here's the interesting part about this single.  Did you know that Jim Croce actually wrote the song three years prior to it becoming a #1 single?  He was inspired to write the song lyrics in December 1970 following the announcement that his wife Ingrid was pregnant with their child.

TRIVIA:  That child happens to be Adrian "A.J." Croce, born on September 28, 1971.  Like his father, he has also pursued a music career, having released nine albums since 1993.

Looking at the lyrics, I can see how a little child could inspire Croce to pen such poignant and emotion-filled poetry.  You could tell that the song was written by a man who was very much looking forward to being a father and spending time with his new son, not realizing the cruel twist of irony that would seal his fate on the evening of September 20, 1973.

In a way, Croce's death almost mirrored that of the rock band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, a band that saw several of its members lose their lives just one year after Croce.  Croce had just finished playing a concert at Northwestern State University's Prather Coliseum in Natchitoches, Louisiana and was set to play another concert the following day in Sherman, Texas.  He was also a day away from officially releasing another single "I Got A Name", and he had just enjoyed the fruits of success when his single "Bad Bad Leroy Brown" topped the charts earlier that summer.  It was a very good time in Croce's life.

But less than an hour after playing the gig at Northwestern, the plane that Croce had boarded crashed after taking off from the runway - allegedly caused by the plane clipping a pecan tree that was right next to the runway.

Croce was dead on impact.  He was just thirty years old.

To say that Croce's death was a tragedy would be an understatement.  Croce had been recording music for several years prior to the plane crash.  He had a wife and a new son in his life.  He was just starting to reap the rewards of perseverance and hard work, and he was finally becoming a music star in his own right.  For him to die at that moment was just not right.

It was almost as if the bottle that Jim Croce had sealed up all of his time in had shattered on the ground, with no way to repair it.

It's been 42 years since Croce died, and yet his music is still heavily played on oldies stations, 1970s stations, and even a couple of soft rock radio stations.  And after Croce's death, a posthumous album entitled "I Got A Name" was released on December 1, 1973, where it reached #2 on the Billboard 200 charts and #2 on the Canadian RPM charts.'s hard to know what might have been had Jim Croce survived past 1973.  Would he have continued his momentum and become just as famous as say Neil Young or John Mellencamp?  Or would he have abandoned music to pursue another goal?  The sad thing is that we'll never know, but at least his son has followed in his father's footsteps.

And, really, let "Time in a Bottle" serve as a song that best fits the upcoming new year.  2016 is a year that offers much promise and much anticipation, but it also represents a lot of uncertainty.  For some of us, 2016 could be the last year we have, and none of us know when our time filled bottles will run out or expire.  That's why we have to make sure that no matter how much time we have left, we make the most of it.

After all...Jim Croce did.

No comments:

Post a Comment