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‘Time In A Bottle’: Jim Croce’s music continues to inspire 50 years after his life was cut short

Jim Croce’s brief time in the national spotlight was enough to put a bevy of songs in heavy rotation on radio stations – and on stage in the hands…



Jim Croce went from struggling folk musician to chart-topping singer-songwriter. Charlie Gillett Collection via Getty Images

On Thursday, Sept. 20, 1973, singer-songwriter Jim Croce died when his chartered plane crashed shortly after takeoff in Natchitoches, Louisiana. He was 30 years old.

Croce was a chart-topping musician who had performed over 300 concerts in the previous year. He had been in Natchitoches to play that evening at Northwestern State University, making up for a concert canceled the previous spring because he had a sore throat. Croce had performed for an enthusiastic if small audience. Many people had stayed home to watch the televised broadcast of the “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King.

In her 2012 book “I Got a Name: The Jim Croce Story,” Croce’s wife, Ingrid, recounted that night: a pilot, Robert Elliott, with a heart condition helming a small Beechcraft E18S; a flight trajectory possibly not accounting for some tall pecan trees; a phone call bearing horrible news.

The crash also killed Croce’s performing partner Maury Muehleisen, comedian George Stevens, manager Kenneth Cortese and tour manager Dennis Rast.

Aircraft crashes have claimed the lives of other popular music acts before and after Croce: Glenn Miller, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper, Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Otis Redding, The Bar-Kays, members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ricky Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughan, John Denver and Aaliyah. Croce, like all those musicians, left the world abruptly and far too early, yet his music endured, and fans grew to view him as having achieved a measure of immortality.

From obscure folkie to national star

Croce was an Italian American from Philadelphia and a participant in the 1960s folk music revival. In 1966, he recorded the solo album “Facets,” which revealed to the few people who heard it that Croce was a compelling singing storyteller who could personalize songs composed by others. In 1969, Jim and Ingrid Croce, who toured as a duo, made an album together for Capitol Records. That album, simply titled “Croce,” showcased both Croces as evocative songwriters.

Three years passed. Jim Croce worked various blue-collar jobs to support his family while trying to advance a solo music career. Eventually his management secured a recording deal, and Croce entered a New York City studio, the Hit Factory, to make his third album, “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim.”

Croce teamed up with guitarist Maury Muehleisen for his third and subsequent albums.

The album was released in April 1972 on the ABC label. It featured striking original songs – directly expressed, richly human lyrics matched to pitch-perfect musical structures – all performed by Croce with accompaniment from his new partner, master guitarist and harmony singer Muehleisen. The album yielded three hits: the title track, “Operator (That’s Not the Way it Feels)” and “Time in a Bottle.” The album launched Croce on the national stage as a formidable artist who combined relatability and sincerity with remarkable artistic craftsmanship and an unmistakable voice.

The album “Life and Times,” released in July 1973, sustained Croce’s trajectory, offering original songs that either explored love or celebrated charismatic characters. The album featured his breakthrough hit “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” which reached No. 1 on the Billboard singles chart and earned Croce two Grammy Award nominations.

By September 1973, with two albums reaching Gold status for selling 500,000 copies, Croce’s career was soaring. In August and early September 1973, he entered the studio to make new recordings for his next album. That album, “I Got a Name,” was released posthumously on Dec. 1, 1973. It rose to No. 2 on the album chart in 1974 and featured three singles: the title track, “I’ll Have to Say I Love You in a Song” and “Workin’ at the Car Wash Blues.”

“Time in a Bottle” was released as a single posthumously and became Croce’s second No. 1 hit.

A who’s who performing Croce songs

During the 1970s, some music critics accused the singer-songwriter of wallowing in nostalgic sentimentality. This line of criticism, though, didn’t account for such Croce songs as “Next Time, This Time” and “Lover’s Cross” – falling-out-of-love songs as emotionally harrowing as any by other songwriters of that era. Certain Croce songs that did project nostalgia, such as “Walkin’ Back to Georgia” and “Alabama Rain,” inspired generations of country music songwriters.

Fans and fellow musicians did not seem to share the critics’ views of the man and his music. Shortly after his death and for years afterward, Croce was memorialized in popular culture. In 1974, The Righteous Brothers referenced him in a No. 3 single “Rock and Roll Heaven,” while Queen recorded an album track entitled “Bring Back That Leroy Brown.” That same year, The Ventures recorded an album of instrumental interpretations of Croce songs.

Various pop vocalists got into the act. Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams, Bobby Vinton, Lena Horne and Roger Whittaker covered Croce songs. In 1980, Jerry Reed recorded an album of Croce songs, while 1997 saw the release of the album “Jim Croce: A Nashville Tribute.” Over the years, Croce songs have been recorded by country artists including Glen Campbell, Crystal Gayle, Clint Black and Garth Brooks, and by musicians associated with other genres, including Henry Mancini, Shirley Scott, Diana Krall, The Drifters, Babyface and Dale Ann Bradley.

Jim Croce has been commemorated in other ways as well. In 1990, he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2022, a Pennsylvania state historical marker was erected at the site of the house where Jim, Ingrid and son A.J. Croce, who became a widely respected singer-songwriter in his own right, lived at the time of his commercial breakthrough.

Ingrid Croce created her own tribute to her former partner, opening a restaurant in San Diego named Croce’s Restaurant and Jazz Club, located on the corner of 5th Avenue and F Street – the site where, in 1973, one week before the fatal plane crash, Jim and Ingrid had talked of establishing a music performance venue. For 30 years, before closing after a lease dispute, the popular restaurant was a place where fans could celebrate Jim Croce and his music.

To honor its namesake, the restaurant hosted live music, and Croce’s gold records were mounted on the wall. Prominently displayed in the restaurant was a rendering of the singer-songwriter, mustachioed and – to quote from his song “Workin’ at the Car Wash Blues” – “smoking on a big cigar.”

Ted Olson does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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SEC initiates legal action against FTX’s auditor

The SEC alleges that Prager Metis, an accounting firm engaged by bankrupt crypto exchange FTX in 2021, committed hundreds of violations related to auditor…



The SEC alleges that Prager Metis, an accounting firm engaged by bankrupt crypto exchange FTX in 2021, committed hundreds of violations related to auditor independence.

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has commenced legal proceedings against an accounting firm that had provided services to cryptocurrency exchange FTX before its bankruptcy declaration.

According to a Sept. 29 statement, the SEC alleged that accounting firm Prager Metis provided auditing services to its clients without maintaining the necessary independence as it continued to offer accounting services. This practice is prohibited under the auditor independence framework.

Extract from the SEC's September 29 statement. Source: SEC

To prevent conflicts of interest, accounting and audit tasks must be kept clearly separate. However, the SEC claims that these entwined activities spanned over a period of approximately three years:

“As alleged in our complaint, over a period of nearly three years, Prager’s audits, reviews, and exams fell short of these fundamental principles. Our complaint is an important reminder that auditor independence is crucial to investor protection.”

While the statement doesn't explicitly mention FTX or any other clients, it does emphasize that there were allegedly "hundreds" of auditor independence violations throughout the three-year period.

Furthermore, a previous court filing pointed out that the FTX Group engaged Metis to audit FTX US and FTX at some point in 2021. Subsequently, FTX declared bankruptcy in November 2022. 

The filing alleged that since former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried publicly announced previous FTX audit results, Metis should have recognized that its work would be used by FTX to bolster public trust.

Related: FTX founder’s plea for temporary release should be denied, prosecution says

Concerns were previously reported about the material presented in FTX audit reports.

On Jan. 25, current FTX CEO John J. Ray III told a bankruptcy court that he had “substantial concerns as to the information presented in these audited financial statements.”

Furthermore, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ron Wyden raised concerns about Prager Metis' impartiality. They argued that it functioned as an advocate for the crypto industry.

Meanwhile, a law firm that provided services to FTX has come under scrutiny in recent times.

In a Sept. 21 court filing, plaintiffs allege that U.S. based law firm, Fenwick & West, should be held partially liable for FTX's collapse because it reportedly exceeded the norm when it came to its service offerings to the exchange.

However, Fenwick & West asserts that it cannot be held accountable for a client's misconduct as long as its actions remain within the bounds of the client's representation.

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DOJ readies witnesses in Bankman-Fried trial, highlights FTX asset management

The DOJ intends to highlight the experiences of retail and institutional clients who entrusted substantial assets to FTX.
The Department…



The DOJ intends to highlight the experiences of retail and institutional clients who entrusted substantial assets to FTX.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has confirmed its intention to summon former FTX clients, investors and staff as witnesses in the upcoming trial involving Sam Bankman-Fried, the former FTX CEO.

The DOJ submitted a letter motion in limine on Sept. 30 describing the witnesses it intends to call concerning FTX’s treatment of customer assets.

The testimonies intend to provide perspectives on the interactions between the accused and the witnesses. It also aims to get the witnesses’ understanding of Bankman-Fried’s remarks and conduct, particularly regarding FTX’s asset management. The DOJ intends to highlight the experiences of retail and institutional clients who entrusted substantial assets to FTX, believing that the platform would safeguard them securely.

Court filing in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Source: CourtListener

Furthermore, a situation has emerged concerning one of the DOJ’s witnesses, “FTX Customer-1,” who resides in Ukraine. Given the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, traveling to the U.S. to provide testimony is associated with difficulties. The DOJ has suggested using video conferencing as a viable alternative. However, Bankman-Fried’s defense has not yet approved this proposal.

Nonetheless, the legal team representing Bankman-Fried, led by lawyer Mark Cohen, has voiced concerns about the jury questions put forth by the DOJ. According to Bankman-Fried’s defense, these interrogations insinuate guilt on Bankman-Fried’s part, potentially undermining the principle of “innocent until proven guilty.“

Additionally, the defense contends that these inquiries may not effectively uncover the jurors’ inherent biases, especially related to their encounters with cryptocurrencies. Moreover, specific questions could inadvertently guide the jury’s perspective instead of eliciting authentic insights, possibly compromising the trial’s impartiality.

Related: Sam Bankman-Fried’s lawyer challenges US gov’t proposed jury questions

With the jury selection scheduled to start on Oct. 3, closely followed by the trial, the spotlight is firmly on this high-stakes legal confrontation. This case underscores not only its immediate consequences but also underscores the vital importance of transparent communication and unbiased questioning in upholding the principles of justice.

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Vitalik Buterin voices concerns over DAOs approving ETH staking pool operators

The Ethereum co-founder proposes a solution that could lower the likelihood of any individual liquid staking provider growing to a point where it poses…



The Ethereum co-founder proposes a solution that could lower the likelihood of any individual liquid staking provider growing to a point where it poses a systemic risk.

Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, has expressed worries regarding decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) exerting a monopoly over the selection of node operators in liquidity staking pools.

In a September 30 blog post, Buterin issues a warning that as staking pools adopt the DAO approach for governance over node operators—who are ultimately responsible for the pool's funds—it can expose them to potential risks from malicious actors.

“With the DAO approach, if a single such staking token dominates, that leads to a single, potentially attackable governance gadget controlling a very large portion of all Ethereum validators.”

Buterin highlights the liquid staking provider Lido (LDO) as an example with a DAO that validates node operators. However, he emphasizes that relying on just one layer of protection may prove insufficient:

“To the credit of protocols like Lido, they have implemented safeguards against this, but one layer of defense may not be enough,” he noted.

ETH staked by category chart. Source: Vitalik Buterin

Meanwhile, he explains that Rocket Pool offers the opportunity for anyone to become a node operator by placing an 8 Ether (ETH) deposit, which, at the time of this publication, is equivalent to approximately $13,406.

However, he notes this comes with its risks. "The Rocket Pool approach allows attackers to 51% attack the network, and force users to pay most of the costs," he stated.

On the other hand, Buterin highlights that having a mechanism to ascertain who can act as the underlying node operators is an inevitable necessity:

"It can't be unrestricted, because then attackers would join and amplify their attacks with users' funds."

Related: Ethereum is about to get crushed by liquid staking tokens

Buterin further outlines that a possible approach to address this issue involves encouraging ecosystem participants to utilize a variety of liquid staking providers. 

He clarifies this would decrease the likelihood of any one provider becoming excessively large and posing a systemic risk.

“In the longer term, however, this is an unstable equilibrium, and there is peril in relying too much on moralistic pressure to solve problems," he stated.

Magazine: Are DAOs overhyped and unworkable? Lessons from the front lines

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