Jim Croce

Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels)

Song Review by

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.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
You Don't Mess Around with Jim 1972 R2M / Rhino 3:50
Photographs & Memories: His Greatest Hits 1974 Atlantic 3:47
Time in a Bottle/Greatest Love Songs 1977 Atlantic 3:49
The 50th Anniversary Collection 1992 Saja 3:49
AM Gold: Early '70s Classics 1992
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:48
24 Karat Gold in a Bottle 1994 DCC Compact Classics 3:50
Bad, Bad Leroy Brown & Other Favorites [CEMA] 1994 EMI-Capitol Special Markets / CEMA Special Markets 3:49
Back to Back Hits 1995 EMI-Capitol Special Markets / CEMA Special Markets 3:49
The Singles 1995 BR Music 3:48
Mellow Rock Hits of the 70's: Sundown 1997
Various Artists
Story Songs 1997
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 3:47
Bad Bad Leroy Brown: The Definitive Collection 1998 Recall (UK) 3:49
The Definitive 1998 BMG / R2M 3:50
The Very Best of Jim Croce [BR] 1998 Import 3:49
Best of Jim Croce 1998 Music Club International Records 3:46
Men and Songs 1998
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 3:44
Soft Rock Classics [Rhino Box] 1998
Various Artists
Rhino 3:48
American Pie: Great Tales & Sagas in Song 1998
Various Artists
Reader's Digest Music 3:48
Bad Bad Leroy Brown [Delta] 1999 Laserlight 3:49
The Simply the Best: Time in a Bottle - His Greatest Hits 1999 Woodford 3:47
Words and Music 1999 DCC Compact Classics 3:48
The Definitive Collection: Time in a Bottle 2000 Essential Records 3:50
No Image 2000
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:47
Rolling Stone Presents: Male Singer-Songwriters 2001
Various Artists
Rhino 3:46
VH1 Behind the Music: The Jim Croce Collection 2001 Rhino 3:50
Jim Croce 2001 Remind 3:50
The Ultimate Power of Songwriters 2002
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 3:48
The Complete Collection 2003 BR Music 3:48
No Image 2003
Various Artists
Realm Records 3:48
Classic Hits 2004 Rhino 3:49
Hits of the 60's & 70's [Madacy] 2004
Various Artists
Madacy 3:48
The Way We Used to Be: The Anthology 2004 Sanctuary
The Hit List: 24 Hot 100 American Chartbusters of the 1970s 2004
Various Artists
Ace 3:47
The Greatest Rockin' 70's Hits of All Time 2006
Various Artists
Rhino 3:49
Gold: Soft Rock 2007
Various Artists
Hip-O 3:48
Rolling Stone: The Timeless Stories of the '70s Singer-Songwriter 2008
Various Artists
Singers & Songwriters: Troubadours 2010
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:46
Singers & Songwriters [Time-Life Box Set] 2011
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:46
The Original Albums: Jim Croce 2011 BMG / R2M 3:50
Greatest Ever! Country Rock [2013] 2013
Various Artists
Greatest Ever / Union Square Music 3:48
Troubadours: Folk and the Roots of American Music, Pt. 3 2014
Various Artists
Bear Family Records 3:49