You Don't Mess Around with Jim (song)

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"You Don't Mess Around with Jim"
Single by Jim Croce
from the album You Don't Mess Around with Jim
B-side "Photographs and Memories"
Released June 1972
Format 7" 45 RPM
Recorded October 11, 1971; The Hit Factory
(New York City)
Genre Folk rock
Length 3:02
Label ABC
Writer(s) Jim Croce
Producer(s) Terry Cashman, Tommy West
Jim Croce singles chronology
"You Don't Mess Around with Jim"
"Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels)"
You Don't Mess Around with Jim track listing
"You Don't Mess Around with Jim"
"Tomorrow's Gonna Be a Brighter Day"

"You Don't Mess Around with Jim" is a 1972 single by Jim Croce from his album of the same name.[1] The song was also Croce's debut single when it was released in June 1972 on ABC Records as ABC-11328. The song first aired on KHJ 930 AM in Los Angeles when ABC Records promotion man Marty Kupps took the single to the radio station where it appeared on the KHJ "30" chart at number 27 during the week of June 6th 1972. After spending 11 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart the song reached a peak of #8 the week ending Sept. 9th 1972. Croce performed the song on American Bandstand on August 12, 1972.


The lyrics tell story of "Big Jim Walker", a pool hustler who is not too bright but is respected because of his tough reputation, his considerable strength, and his skill at pool. The regulars at the pool hall have this advice:

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 Jim

A man named William L. McCoy Jr. (also known as Willie) comes to the pool hall to get his money back from Big Jim after being hustled out of it the previous week. Willie McCoy is known as "Slim" back in his hometown in south Alabama. When Big Jim comes in, they fight; McCoy cuts Big Jim numerous times with a switchblade and shoots him dead. McCoy now has his money back and the respect formerly granted to Big Jim, and the regulars at the pool hall have now changed their advice to strangers: "You don't mess around with Slim".

Croce tells a nearly identical story (a much-feared tough guy who gets his comeuppance from someone even tougher) in his hit single Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.

In popular culture[edit]

Live performances[edit]

Live versions of the song have been released on both of Croce's live albums, Have You Heard: Jim Croce Live, and Jim Croce Live: The Final Tour.

Track listing[edit]

7" Single (ABC-11328)[5]

  1. "You Don't Mess Around With Jim " - 3:00
  2. "Photographs and Memories" - 2:03

Chart performance[edit]