Wordsmith Wednesday: Jim Croce’s “Operator”


This week’s words are from Jim Croce’s song “Operator” off his 1972 album, “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim.”

The lyrics are:

“Give me the number if you can find it/
So I can call just to tell ’em I’m fine/
And to show/
I’ve overcome the blow/
I’ve learned to take it well/
I only wish my words/
Could just convince myself/
That it just wasn’t real/
But that’s not the way it feels”

There’s something elementally Midwestern about Croce’s music to me. He’s at his best when he’s almost apologetically honest and vulnerable, crafting emotionally rich story-telling into something bite-sized. This song in particular with it’s use of one-sided phone conversation as a vehicle to work through the uncertainty and denial of a heartbroken lover shows his ability to navigate lyrical landscapes masterfully, capturing complex emotions and simplifying them enough to make them universal. His loss songs don’t wallow in sorrow, but have a certain accepting wistfulness that make them three dimensional and genuine. I always feel like I’m sharing the room with a straightforward sage when I’m listening to Jim Croce.

– NR



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