Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels)

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"Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels)"
Operator Jim Croce.jpg
Single by Jim Croce
from the album You Don't Mess Around with Jim
B-side"Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy)"
ReleasedAugust 23, 1972[1]
Format7" 45 RPM
GenreFolk rock
LabelABC (USA)
Vertigo (UK, Mexico)
Songwriter(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)"
"One Less Set of Footsteps"

"Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels)" is a 1972 song written by Jim Croce. Croce's record was released on August 23, 1972. It was the second single released from Croce's album You Don't Mess Around with Jim. It reached a peak of #17 on the Billboard Hot 100 in December 1972, spending twelve weeks on the chart.

There is a similar song written by Ron "Pigpen" McKernan of the Grateful Dead and released on their 1970 American Beauty album. However, Croce's song predates the McKernan song by several years. There are numerous mid-1960s recordings available of Jim Croce performances that include his exact version of "Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels)." While the song-stories are similar, they are distinctly different songs.


The song relates one side of a conversation with a telephone operator. The speaker is trying to find the phone number of his former lover, who has moved to Los Angeles with his former best friend. He wants to demonstrate to both of them that he is well and over their betrayal, but admits to the operator that he isn't. After the operator has given him the number, he is unable to read it, apparently due to the tears in his eyes. He then changes his mind and tells the operator not to place the call, appreciatively adding "you can keep the dime" (the then standard toll he had deposited in a payphone).

The story was inspired during Jim Croce's military service, during which time he saw lines of soldiers waiting to use the outdoor phone on base, many of them calling their wives or girlfriends to see if their Dear John letter was true.[2]

Live performances[edit]

In 1973 Croce performed "Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels)" on the series The Midnight Special. Live versions of the song have also been released on the albums Jim Croce Live: The Final Tour and Have You Heard: Jim Croce Live.


The song "Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels)" has been covered by a number of artists, in both recordings and live performances:

Track listing[edit]

7" Single (ABC-11335)[3]

  1. "Operator (That's Not The Way It Feels)" - 3:45
  2. "Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy) " - 2:40

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1972-73) Peak
Canadian RPM Top Singles[4] 11
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 17
U.S. Cash Box Top 100[5] 14
U.S. Billboard Easy Listening[6] 11


  1. ^ Dean, Maury (2003). Rock 'n Roll: Gold Rush : a Singles Un-cyclopedia. Maxwell Hunter Publishing. p. 235.
  2. ^ "Jim Croce". Redroaddesign.com. Retrieved 2016-10-07.
  3. ^ "Jim Croce - Operator (That's Not The Way It Feels) / Rapid Roy (The Stock Car Boy) (Vinyl)". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2016-10-07.
  4. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 2016-10-07.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-01-16. Retrieved 2011-01-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels) (song by Jim Croce) • Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. 1972-10-14. Retrieved 2016-10-07.

External links[edit]