You Don't Mess Around with Jim

You Don't Mess Around with Jim
Studio album by Jim Croce
Released April 1972[1]
Recorded 1971-1972, The Hit Factory, New York City
Genre Folk rock
Length 33:22
Label ABC (USA)
Vertigo (UK)
Producer Terry Cashman, Tommy West
Jim Croce chronology
Jim & Ingrid Croce
You Don't Mess Around with Jim
Life & Times
Singles from You Don't Mess Around with Jim
  1. "You Don't Mess Around with Jim"
    Released: July 1972
  2. "Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels)"
    Released: October 1972
  3. "Time in a Bottle"
    Released: November 1973
Professional ratings
Review scores

You Don't Mess Around with Jim is the third studio album by American singer-songwriter Jim Croce, released in 1972.

History and release

The album was recorded over a three to four week period for approximately $18,000, with most funding coming from the PolyGram Group in Baarn, the Netherlands on the basis of hearing an 8-song demo tape assembled by production team Cashman & West. The deal with PolyGram was made after team attorney Phil Kurnit approached a contact within the record company who then had PolyGram executives to listen to the demo tape. After having the finished album rejected by up to 40 record labels, Croce was signed to ABC Records after Cashman & West had a chance meeting with ABC promotion man Marty Kupps. Kupps urged label head Jay Lasker to sign Croce after hearing cuts from a cassette tape of the finished album.

The record spent 93 weeks on the charts, longer than any other Jim Croce album. Due to the strong performance of the posthumous single release "Time in a Bottle" (#1 pop, #1 AC), You Don't Mess Around with Jim was the best selling album in the U.S. for five weeks in early 1974.[3] It was listed at #6 on the 1974 Cash Box yearend album charts.[4] Two singles were originally released from the album in 1972: the title track (#8 pop) and "Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels)" (#17 pop).

The album was issued on CD by the Rhino Flashbacks record label on September 30, 2008.


The lyrics of the title track concern the fate of a 'pool-shooting son-of-a-gun' by the name of 'Big' Jim Walker when his 'mark,' Slim, from a south Alabama Honkytonk shows up to get a refund from being hustled or get revenge. The song is notable for the line "You don't tug on Superman's cape/You don't spit into the wind/You don't pull the mask off that ol' Lone Ranger/And you don't mess around with Jim." However, after the song ends with Jim being thoroughly thrashed by his victim ("he'd been cut 'n 'bout a hundred places/ and he'd been shot in a couple more"), the chorus now sings about how "You don't mess around with Slim."


The song "You Don't Mess Around with Jim" has been covered by Poison on Look What the Cat Dragged In, Ty Herndon on What Mattered Most, Josh Turner on Long Black Train, and Donna Fargo on My Second Album.

Kid Rock covered "Box #10" in 1995 as part of The Bootleg Series. Jesse Malin covered "Operator" on his 2008 album On Your Sleeve. On an episode of the ABC drama Eli Stone, Victor Garber performed this song in one of Eli's visions.

Tori Amos covered "Operator" live in 2005 while on her Original Sinsuality Tour. An official live recording can be found in The Original Bootlegs box set.

Guitarist Jerry Reed has covered this song also, interpreting it with his own style.

Track listing

All tracks written by Jim Croce.

1."You Don't Mess Around with Jim"  3:02
2."Tomorrow's Gonna Be a Brighter Day"  2:57
3."New York's Not My Home"  3:10
4."Hard Time Losin' Man"  2:29
5."Photographs and Memories"  2:09
6."Walkin' Back to Georgia"  2:53
7."Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels)"  3:50
8."Time in a Bottle"  2:29
9."Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy)"  2:46
10."Box #10"  2:46
11."A Long Time Ago"  2:53
12."Hey Tomorrow"  2:47


  • A ^ Tracks 1-12 correspond to the original 1972 album



Chart positions

Year Chart Position
1974 US Billboard 200 1
1974 Canadian RPM 100 1
Year Single Chart Position
1972 "You Don't Mess Around with Jim" Pop Singles 8
1972 "Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels)" Pop Singles 17
1973 "Time in a Bottle" Pop Singles 1
1973 "Time in a Bottle" Adult Contemporary 1


Country Certifications
United States Gold


  1. Strong, Martin Charles & John Peel The Great Rock Discography
  2. Ruhlmann, William. You Don't Mess Around with Jim - Jim Croce at AllMusic. Retrieved October 9, 2011.
  3. Whitburn, Joel. The Billboard Book of Top Pop Albums 1955-1985, Record Research Inc., 1985, p. 88, 505.
  4. "The Cash Box 1974 yearend album charts". Retrieved 2012-10-06.
Preceded by
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John
Canadian RPM 100 number-one album
December 8–28, 1973
Succeeded by
Life and Times by Jim Croce
Preceded by
The Singles: 1969-1973 by The Carpenters
Canadian RPM 100 number-one album (second run)
February 2, - February 22, 1974
Succeeded by
Greatest Hits by John Denver
Preceded by
The Singles: 1969-1973 by The Carpenters
Billboard 200 number-one album
January 12 - February 15, 1974
Succeeded by
Planet Waves by Bob Dylan
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