Killer, acoustic guitar fingerpicking by Maury Muehleisen, a great tune with a classic verse/chorus/verse/chorus structure, and an even better story are at the heart of Jim Croce's 1971 Top 20 hit "Operator." The simple song holds up to repeat listenings even if you know the ending; the musicianship is clean and pro and yet it's warm. A guy tries to place a call to his ex who's shacked up with his "ex-best friend"; he becomes distressed, tears up, and smears the number the operator gives him. Though he's determined to let the pair of lovers know he's okay, by the end of the song, he's decided not to place the call at all. The situation resonates for anyone who's been jilted, but the song's bald-face sentimentality may have contributed to Croce being written off in some quarters as a cloying pop artist. Yet "Operator" is the exact kind of song that sounds good on a car radio. It would seem that a canny country singer or band -- their stock-in-trade domestic heartbreak -- might take a hint and cover it.