I Got a Name (song)

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"I Got a Name"
Single by Jim Croce
from the album I Got a Name
B-side "Alabama Rain"
Released September 21, 1973
Format 7" 45 RPM
Genre Folk rock
Length 3:15
Label ABC
Writer(s) Charles Fox, Norman Gimbel
Producer(s) Terry Cashman
Jim Croce singles chronology
"Bad, Bad Leroy Brown"
(1973)
"I Got a Name"
(1973)
"Time in a Bottle"
(1973)

"I Got a Name" is a 1973 single recorded by Jim Croce and written by Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox. It was released in 1973 and was the first single from his album of the same title. It reached a peak of #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 after spending 17 weeks on the chart. "I Got a Name" was also the theme song for the 1973 movie The Last American Hero. It was also featured in the movies The Ice Storm, Invincible, and Django Unchained.

Background[edit]

In an interview with Billboard magazine, writer Norman Gimbel revealed the reason Croce chose to record the song, stating that "Jim liked it because his father had a dream for him but had died before his son's first success."[1]

Content[edit]

The song features a narrator who is proud of who he is and where he is going in life, undeterred by the naysaying of others. He begins by declaring that like any plant or animal, he has a name of which he can be proud. The narrator acknowledges, however, that not all people take pride in who they are in such a way: for instance, he carries his name with him "like [his] daddy did," but the narrator, choosing to handle life differently, is "living the dream that [his father] kept hid." The narrator, unlike his father, is able to have a proud connection with his name, and live out the dreams that his father was unable to accomplish in life.

In the second verse, the narrator goes on to note that like the wind, birds, or even crying babies, he has a song to sing. Much like he does with his name, he holds his song up as a proud part of his identity, and resolves to sing it no matter what. Even if singing "gets [him] nowhere," by declaring his identity and worth to the world, the narrator can go to "nowhere" proudly.

In the final verse, the narrator declares that he will go forward in life "free," acknowledging that he will forever thus be a "fool." However, he happily chooses this path of foolish freedom, because moving through life this way can only help him achieve his "dream." This dream is clearly as much a part of the narrator's identity as his name or the song he sings, and he holds it up just as proudly to others. He then notes that while others may "change their minds" about him and his dream, their naysaying can never change his identity. Even so, the narrator is willing to "share" his dream with others, and announces that if anyone else is "going [his] way"--i.e. they believe in his dream as well--then he will go forward in life along with them.

However, the culmination of the narrator's beliefs and pride in his identity is really in the chorus, as he declares that no matter what, he is joyfully "moving" and "rolling" himself "down the highway" of life. All in all, as he moves forward in life, carrying his name, his song, and his dream as part of him, his biggest goal is to simply not focus on the past, but look to the present and future instead. The narrator ends by sharing his hope that he can live each day to the fullest, "moving ahead so life won't pass [him] by."

Reception[edit]

In 1973, Billboard wrote, "The song is bigger and more grandiose in lyric and melody content than Croce's usual funky material which makes interesting contrast." They also listed the song as a top single pick. [2]

Live performances[edit]

Jim Croce performed the song live on an episode of the The Midnight Special in 1973.[3]

Cover versions[edit]

In Film and Television[edit]

The song was featured in a TV commercial for Western Airlines, in 1987, just before the carrier merged with Delta Airline; it had the tag line, "Western Airlines: We have a name to live up to."

In the 2001 "Ready, Willing, and Disabled" episode of the cartoon Family Guy, Mort Goldman is seen singing along to a muzak version of the song in his pharmacy.

This song is featured in the movie Invincible with Mark Wahlberg in the lead role.

In August 2012, a Remax commercial featured Croce singing the song.

The song is featured in Quentin Tarantino's 2012 film Django Unchained.

Track listing[edit]

7" Single (ABC-11389)[5]

  1. "I Got a Name" - 3:09
  2. "Alabama Rain" - 2:14

Chart performance[edit]

References[edit]