Over Jim Croce
Bruce Springsteen owes a lot to the late, great Jim Croce. Not just on a singer/songwriter level, but that whole appealing-to-the-blue-collar-man-through-music thing was really Croce's idea first (or second if you count Woody Guthrie). Whether he was capturing a hauntingly passionate moment in a narrative or just playing a little acoustic boogie, Croce could tap into a multititude of musical styles while retaining his own signature urban-troubadour sound. Like many great songwriters, Croce began writing songs and singing while attending college, though he grew up listening to Dixieland jazz and teaching himself how to play guitar. He married his wife Ingrid after graduation and kept food on the table and a roof over their heads by working construction, taking on random teaching jobs and playing his music in small clubs and bars. It wasn't until he took a job writing songs for radio jingles that he was discovered by ABC/Dunhill records who released his 1972 hit album You Don't Mess Around With Jim. The most popular song on the album "Time In A Bottle" hit No. 1 on the charts, allowing him to record another album entitled Life And Times which yielded another No. 1 hit with "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" in 1973. Croce died an untimely death that year in a plane crash, and though other recordings of his surfaced and were released posthumously, speculations of what he could have accomplished abound whenever anything is penned or produced about the man. He was survived by his wife Ingrid and son A.J. (who is a brilliant singer/songwriter in his own right).