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)"
Released August 23, 1972[1]
Format 7" 45 RPM
Recorded 1972
Genre Folk rock
Length 3:50
Label ABC (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"
You Don't Mess Around with Jim track listing
"Walkin' Back to Georgia"
"Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels)"
"Time in a Bottle"

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


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 confront her, telling her he is well and over her betrayal of him, 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 standard toll he had deposited).

The story was inspired during Jim Croce's military service, where 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]

To this day, several fans leave dimes on his tombstone because of his line at the end of the song "you can keep the dime."[citation needed]

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. ^ [1][dead 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]