“Time In A Bottle” by Jim Croce

The lyrics of “Time In A Bottle” are very poetic and open-ended really. It is said that Croce wrote them upon discovering his wife, whom he had already been with for five years, was for the first time with child. This was a revelation that excited Jim but also reportedly imbued him with a sense of fear. 

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Jim Croce's Time In A Bottle at Lyrics.org.

In any event, if we were to take it that said child (who grew up to be singer A. J. Croce) is the intended recipient of this piece, then what Jim is expressing (somewhat ironically considering that he died a short time later) is basically a desire to spend more time with him.

Or viewed otherwise, whoever the addressee may be, the vocalist seems to understand that his tenure with this loved one is limited. Or beyond that, this can also be taken as a general expression of love. For instance, there can be someone in your life that you’re with every day and may even reside with. But still, you wish you could spend more time with them or that the nature of the love between the two of you, in a manner of speaking, can last forever.

In fact, it’s not uncommon to hear parents relay a sentiment like they actually enjoyed being with their children more when they were babies as opposed to once they get older. And all things considered, that may also be the type of feeling that inspired these lyrics. In other words, even though the singer is expressing his wish to “save” the “time” he’s spending with the addressee “in a bottle”, there’s nothing contained within the song to imply that they’re facing separation to begin with. 


So let’s say that Jim is imagining a future in which they will not be as close as they are today (as in once the child grows up for instance), or something like that. Or let’s more simply conclude by saying that at the basis of the thesis sentiment here is a desire on the part of the vocalist to spend his life with the addressee.

Jim Croce, "Time In A Bottle" Lyrics

Jim Croce

Jim Croce was a musician from Pennsylvania who was only around for a brief time, as he passed away, as the result of an airplane crash, at the age of 30 in 1973. However, he did manage to put out four studio albums during his lifetime. And the third of those efforts, “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim”, is from where we get “Time in a Bottle”. More precisely this track was released during April of 1972, via ABC Records.

Success of “Time in a Bottle”

“Time in a Bottle” proved to be one of Croce’s biggest hits. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 (as well as Cash Box Top 100 and Canada Top Singles). In addition to this, it was certified gold in the US. But to note, this song blew up some time after the singer had already passed.

As such, this track has a place in history as being only the third song to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 after the vocalist him or herself had left the mortal plane. 

For the records, the first to achieve this feat was “(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay” (1967) by Otis Redding (1941-1967). The second was “Me and Bobby McGee” (1971) by Janis Joplin (1943-1970).

“Time in a Bottle” has also enjoyed a pretty-notable pop media presence throughout the years. For instance, part of its come-up was actually attributable to it being featured on a ABC television movie called She Lives! (1973) shortly after its release. 

Around the same time, it also played a role in a theatre film called The Last American Hero (1973). And since then, it has also shown up on movies and TV programs such as the following:

  • The Hangover Part II (2011)
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
  • Hobbs and Shaw (2019)
  • The Muppet Show (1977)
  • MacGyver (1986)

Who wrote “Time in a Bottle”?

“Time in a Bottle” was written entirely by Jim Croce. Its producers are Terry Cashman and the late Tommy West (1942-2021). 

To note Croce’s regular collaborator Maury Muehleisen (1949-1973), who played guitar on this track, was also killed alongside him in the aforementioned plane crash.

Time In A Bottle

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