"Operator" as written by and James Croce....
Operator, well could you help me place this call?
See, the number on the matchbook is old and faded
She's living in L.A. with my best old ex-friend Ray
A guy she said she knew well and sometimes hated

Isn't that the way they say it goes? Well, let's forget all that
And give me the number if you can find it
So I can call just to tell 'em I'm fine and to show
I've overcome the blow, I've learned to take it well
I only wish my words could just convince myself
That it just wasn't real, but that's not the way it feels

Operator, well could you help me place this call?
Well, I can't read the number that you just gave me
There's something in my eyes, you know it happens every time
I think about a love that I thought would save me

Isn't that the way they say it goes? Well, let's forget all that
And give me the number if you can find it
So I can call just to tell 'em I'm fine and to show
I've overcome the blow, I've learned to take it well
I only wish my words could just convince myself
That it just wasn't real, but that's not the way it feels
No, no, no, no - that's not the way it feels

Operator, well let's forget about this call
There's no one there I really wanted to talk to
Thank you for your time, ah, you've been so much more than kind
And you can keep the dime

Isn't that the way they say it goes? Well, let's forget all that
And give me the number if you can find it
So I can call just to tell 'em I'm fine and to show
I've overcome the blow, I've learned to take it well
I only wish my words could just convince myself
That it just wasn't real, but that's not the way it feels


Lyrics submitted by tmmfalk

"Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels)" as written by James Croce

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group

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Operator song meanings
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19 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentI think we've all had this feeling. You really do want to talk to someone, to just say you're okay. Then you just say "Ah forget it."
    sgtpepperon December 19, 2004   Link
  • +3
    General CommentI have been in this situation many times before and that is the reason this song is so close to my heart. The lyrics and melody are beautiful and will remain timeless forever.

    \\//Peace
    Rollingstonesrockon March 07, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIt is about a man, and his girlfriend went and lived with his ex best friend. Ray was his best friend, but then his girlfriend and ray started dating, so they arent friends anymore. And the man also just wants to call her and tell her that he is doing fine now.

    (There's something in my eye
    You know it happens every time
    I think about the love that I thought would save me)

    He is crying when he is thinking about her.
    peggybaleon August 02, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentA lot of people dont know what they are talking about. This song is an autobiographical one about Croce when he was stationed overseas early in his life. He called his gf to check on her and found out the news. He then proceeded to write this song about it. And ray is the best friend and "something in my eye" is indeed tears. Croce ended up marrying his wife later on and died in that fatal plane crash soon after. This is one of his greatest songs.
    ranceyoungon January 15, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think this song is about a guy that loved this girl, but she moved away and lived with one of his friends. He is trying to call her a tell her that he doesn't care about her anymore and that he's fine, but he can't even convince himself.
    "I only wish my words could just convince myself
    That it just wasn't real, but that's not the way it feels."
    And then he starts to cry when he realizes she will never love him.
    "There's something in my eyes, you know it happens every time
    I think about a love that I thought would save me."
    Overall, a pretty sad song.
    mypointofviewon June 17, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:(
    catherinekson May 28, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSo many good things about this song. Of course it resonates with people but the subtle phrasing is great.

    It seems like he relies on the operator, a total stranger to talk about his problem. I'm sure more than a few real operators have had such confessionals and it also seems common for someone who has had their heart broken to go babbling about it to anyone who will listen. Kind of pathetic but he knows it but what can he do.

    When he says 'See, the number on the matchbook is old and faded.' is really means that she's moved on and she is no longer at that number. The term faded is a good metaphor, as in faded memories.

    The line 'She's living in L.A. with my best old ex-friend Ray' says a lot about friendships and how a lover can bring betrayal and divide friends. Who hasn't lost a friend in some similiar way.

    The line 'A guy she said she knew well and sometimes hated' is telling. How often is it that two people start out hating each other but that that feeling masks a underlying attraction.

    The line 'So I can call just to tell 'em I'm fine and to show I've overcome the blow, I've learned to take it well' - he knows even in the song that he's lying to himself. This aspect of love reminds me an addiction like quitting cigarettes. I once tried to quit and wondered why I couldn't just have one more.
    jelaplanon September 10, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti love this song. love it.
    wavejarson April 23, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentJim Croce was a great songwriter. This song has been playing all day in my head.
    Doc_42on May 10, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General Commentditto.
    woodcock92627on May 20, 2004   Link

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