Jim Croce: Bad, Bad Leroy Brown Meaning
Song Released: 1973
Bad, Bad Leroy Brown Lyrics
Is the baddest part of town
And if you go down there
You better just beware
Of a man named Leroy Brown
Now Leroy more than trouble
You see he stand 'bout six foot four
All the downtown ladies call him...
anonymous Aug 23rd 2014 report
Song was recorded in 1973, remember it like it was yesterday. 41 years ago,maybe for a deeper meaning !
anonymous Apr 19th 2012 report
Here is the real story of Bad Bad Leroy Brown as told by Jim Croce on the tonight show. Croce met the guy at Fort Dix new Jersey in 1967 while he was in a Lineman Company. I was there and went to impromptu song gathering where Croce got up and wowed every one with his singing, which was at the time him doing Buddy Grecco songs.
I am so up on Jim Croce - he was a master 'story teller' and his laid back vocal style and unpretentious made him an instant favourite when he reached his pinnacle in the early seventies.
This song was a break-into-the-top-forever for him on the album ‘Life and Times’; and this was the follow-up to I-have-arrived-at-greatness album ‘You Don’t Mess Around With Jim’. This album, and the lyrics behind his songs really cemented him in the industry as a singer/songwriter, and he received a multitude of offers from recording studios and other artists for him to write/compose songs for them.
This particular song actually started in his short stint in the army (1968-1970). He evidently met someone in the Army who was really bad news while at Fort Jackson, South Carolina (I did my basic training there in 1984 – literally 1 mile from where he did his training there). Anyway, this guy (the name escapes me – but it was not Leroy Brown) was very bad – obviously – and was locked up for going AWOL (Absent With-Out Leave) from the unit they were serving in together. He stored the memory of that guy in his head for a few years, and one day thought to couple that memory with the times he (Jim) personally had to hunt and scrape (literally) a living as a truck driver. He often had to find parts for his vehicles and searching through the junkyard’s for the second-hand parts introduced him to the security most of those yards had: very big and very mean dogs.
He bundled all of this into a rather quaint, but catchy, tune with some excellent guitar; which made you feel like you were in a coffee shop in Chicago, listening to the wise old man of the block tell the story of Leroy and his fall from the top of the heap. In his own humorous way he simply reminded the world that you can be the biggest, the meanest, and the best – but someone will come along and knock you off if you decide to take on another man’s woman.
He borrowed several ‘parts’ of people in his life for this song. The part of the two cars ‘… custom continental… el dorado too…’ supposedly comes from one of his boss’s at the radio station he used to work at; the ‘… .32 gun in his pocked for fun’ is supposed to be a reference to one of the fellow truckies he met on the road, and so on.
What the real tragedy is here is that this song flew to the number one spot – and at that same time (three months from album release) Jim passed away in a plane crash. I remember the Sonny and Cher show where they both came to tears as the tribute to Jim was played live – and this song was the lead-in. We should also note that Frank Sinatra covered this song – and his respect for Jim Croce was such that he acknowledged Jim in his cabaret performances as the ‘artist Jim Croce’.
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