Jim Croce’s Final Midnight Special Appearance Gets Rowdy With, “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim”

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Jim Croce’s Final Midnight Special Appearance Gets Rowdy With, “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim” | Society Of Rock Videos

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Midnight Special, June 1973

There are many things in life that you just don’t do: tug on Superman’s cape, spit in the wind, or pull the mask off of the Lone Ranger – and you certainly don’t mess around with Jim. Singer-songwriter Jim Croce taught us this important lesson during his final appearance on The Midnight Special in 1973 when he and guitarist Maury Muehleisen performed ‘You Don’t Mess Around With Jim,’ and it’s so good that by the end of it you’re willing to tempt fate if it means just five more minutes at Jim and Maury’s feet, listening to them play!

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Written in 1972, ‘You Don’t Mess Around With Jim’ isn’t about our beloved Jim Croce – far from it, in fact; the Jim mentioned in the song is fictitious character “Big Jim” Walker who dominates a seedy underground pool hall and gets his comeuppance when newcomer Slim (who, incidentally, you also do not mess around with) stakes his claim on the pool hall.

Fun Fact: When Jim was in college, he met a few real life “Big Jim” Walkers; he worked in a pretty scary part of town, wheeling and dealing with sketchy characters.

By the end of the performance, Jim Croce manages to get the crowd on its feet and clapping along – something that you’ll probably end up doing, too. Jim may not have been the gun toting pool shark of ‘You Don’t Mess Around With Jim,’ but his legacy as one of the greatest musicians of the last 50 years is something you definitely can’t mess with.

+ You Don’t Mess Around With Jim lyrics +

Uptown got it’s hustlers
The bowery got it’s bums
42nd Street got Big Jim Walker
He’s a pool-shootin’ son of a gun
Yeah, he big and dumb as a man can come
But he stronger than a country hoss
And when the bad folks all get together at night
You know they all call big Jim “Boss”, just because
And they say

You don’t tug on Superman’s cape
You don’t spit into the wind
You don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger
And you don’t mess around with Jim

Well outta south Alabama come a country boy
He say I’m lookin’ for a man named Jim
I am a pool-shootin’ boy
By name ‘a Willie McCoy
But down home they call me Slim
Yeah I’m lookin’ for the king of 42nd Street
He drivin’ a drop top Cadillac
Last week he took all my money
And it may sound funny
But I come to get my money back
And everybody say Jack don’t you know

You don’t tug on Superman’s cape
You don’t spit into the wind
You don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger
And you don’t mess around with Jim

Well a hush fell over the pool room
Jimmy come boppin’ in off the street
And when the cuttin’ was done
The only part that wasn’t bloody
Was the soles of the big man’s feet, ooh
And he was cut in about a hundred places
And he were shot in a couple more
And you better believe
There come another kind of story
When big Jim hit the floor now they say

You don’t tug on Superman’s cape
You don’t spit into the wind
You don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger
And you don’t mess around with Slim

Yeah, big Jim got his hat
Find out where it’s at
And it’s not hustlin’ people strange to you
Even if you do got a two-piece custom-made pool cue

Yeah you don’t tug on Superman’s cape
You don’t spit into the wind
You don’t pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger
And you don’t mess around with Slim

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