Time In A Bottle

Album: You Don't Mess Around With Jim (1972)
Charted: 1

Songfacts®:

  • Jim Croce wrote this reflective song the night that he found out his wife, Ingrid, was pregnant. The couple had been married for five years, and Ingrid found out she was pregnant when she went to a fertility specialist. She recalls a mix of terror and delight in Jim's reaction when she told him the news. The child was a boy named Adrian, who grew up to become the singer-songwriter A.J. Croce.
  • "Time In A Bottle" hit #1 in America 14 weeks after Croce was killed in a plane crash. Croce started touring after he completed his last album, I Got A Name. On September 30, 1973 a plane carrying Croce and five others crashed upon takeoff as he was leaving one college venue to another 70 miles away. No one survived the accident, and among those killed was Maury Muehleisen, who played guitar on Croce's albums. Terry Cashman, who produced Croce, told us, "Jim and Maury got together and all of the sudden Jim started writing these great songs, and Maury came up with these really wonderful guitar parts - the two guitars were like an orchestra."

    "Time In A Bottle" entered the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the week ending December 1, 1973 and finally reached #1 for the week ending December 29, a little over three months after he died.
  • This was never intended to be a single - it was released on Croce's first major-label solo album You Don't Mess Around With Jim in 1972. The album had already yielded the #8 title track and #17 "Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels)." His second LP, Life And Times, had given Croce his first #1 single, "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown." "Time In A Bottle" became a hit over a year after it was first released when it was used in the ABC made-for-TV movie She Lives, about a woman dying of cancer.
  • The song's producer, Terry Cashman, was less than thrilled with the idea of recycling old songs, but ABC Records management loved the idea and OK'ed the use of the tune in She Lives. The movie aired September 12, 1973 (as Croce was putting the finishing touches on his I Got A Name LP). Television stations were deluged with telephone calls from viewers who wanted to know where to buy the song. The next day, ABC Records had received orders for 50,000 copies of You Don't Mess Around With Jim, with sales of about 200,000 by the end of September 1973.
  • This was also included in the soundtrack of the movie The Last American Hero.
  • "I Got a Name" was released in the wake of Croce's death. The week that "I Got a Name" hit #10 (November 17, 1973), it was finally released as a single. Six weeks later, it became the third posthumous #1 of the rock era (after "Dock Of The Bay" and "Me And Bobby McGee").
  • The international drug lord in the movie The Hangover 2 sings this while he and the gang are going up an elevator in Bangkok to make a money for hostage deal.
  • This was featured in a 2016 commercial for the iPhone 6, where Cookie Monster (of Sesame Street fame), uses the hands-free Siri function to set a timer for the cookies he's baking and play his "waiting" playlist. This is the first song, and as it plays, Cookie Monster gets agitated waiting for his treats. When he asks Siri to check the timer, only a minute has passed.

Comments: 16

  • Lisa from 49017My Mother wrote the lyrics to Time in a bottle and she sold the poem when she was a young woman. my mother is 79 years old now and has always said that was the song she wrote, with some of the lyrics changed to make it theirs. i have always believe her, my mother is a beautiful poet and song writer.
  • Pamela L Thompson from 44902J I m Croce has all ways been my favorite
  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenAnyone who loved his songs should play "Child of Midnight," which he performed with his wife and was unreleased until 1992 (50th anniversary of his birth). Incredibly beautiful song.
  • Susan from Atlanta, GeorgiaJerry in Brooklyn and Lalah in Wasilla, Ak, I vividly remember that episode of the Muppets when the tearful scientist muppet was trying to save time in a bottle. I still tear up when I think of it - bawled like a baby the first time I saw it.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn November 11th 1973, "Time In A Bottle" by Jim Croce entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #79; and six weeks later of December 23rd, 1973* it peaked at #1 {for 2 weeks} and spent 15 weeks on the Top 100...
    And on the day it peaked at #1 on the Top 100 it also reached #1 {for 1 week} on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart...
    Between July 1972 and January 1976 he had ten Top 100 records; four made the Top 10 with two reaching #1, his other #1 record was "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" for 2 weeks in 1973...
    James Joseph Croce passed away on September 20th, 1973 at the young age of 30...
    May he R.I.P.
    * the week ending December 29th, 1973.
  • Carolyn from Knoville, TnBeautiful, beautiful song. I miss Croce!
  • Ed from Asheville, NcI miss the songs he never wrote. I believe his best works were never hits. "Alabama Rain" Walkin Back to Georgia" and especially "Photographs and Memories." "Operator" and "Time in a bottle" are easily his most haunting that bit the charts, but the album cuts are the very best.
  • Luis Medina from Livermore, MexicoRicardo Arjona Is A Guatemalan Singer That Became Famous By Singing This Song In Spanish As A Tribute To His All Time Idol Jim Croce The Song In Spanish Is "Tiempo En Una Botella" And It's Shown On The Album "Animal Nocturno"
  • Robert from Chicago, IlJim Croce is one of the best and yet, the most under reated songwriters of all time. Not enough people know about him, or have even heard his songs. He had a way of singing in a way that you knew that he had experienced everything he was singing. Jim Croce's word spoke in a melacholy way and yet somehow uplifted you. More people should know about Jim Croce and find out about him. In my book there are very few songwriters who are in his league or greater. I only just sit and imagine what he would of done if he did not die in the begining of his prime.
  • Karl from Akron, , OhI had seen on an interview show that Jim had written Time in a Bottle in honor of his then very small son A.J.
  • Lalah from Wasilla, AkThe Muppet Show was for families. I remember the old muppet scientist singing this song. It was poignant.
  • Camille from Toronto, OhJim Croce could encapsulate what millions of people felt, and put those feelings into a song with a beautiful, and in this case, almost haunting, melody. What a gift! For him, and then for all of us to listen to. Here it is, the year 2007 & I still feel badly that he was killed at such a young age. It made an impression on me as I was only a teenager at the time, but my mom & older sister loved Jim Croce & I did, too. Still do. Lots of his music on my ipod.
  • Ron from Milwaukee, WiJim Croce died on September 20, 1973 and not on September 30, 1973, contrary to what is stated above.
  • Luke from Mesa, AzThis song, Operator, Walkin Back to Georgia and A Long time ago were written in one week at his kitchen table in Penn. Jim Croce's wife Ingrid told Jim that she was pregnant. After a failed album, and years of touring, he knew that he only had one more chance before he would have to work odd jobs for the rest of his life. He sat down that night, and wrote Time in a Bottle for his unborn son Adrian.
  • Jerry from Brooklyn, NyThis was once done on the old Muppet Show. It was brilliant and profound in its unique way. I can't remember which episode it was, but if you can get the chance to check it out, I think you will be deeply moved. While you're at it, check out the Muppets' take on Kenny Rogers and "The Gambler." The Muppet Show was for kids, but they were never afraid to do something for the adult audience as well.
  • Mark from Watertown, SdOne of the most beautifully songs written EVER
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