Single Review: Edwin McCain “I’ll Be”

I’ll Be
Album: Misguided Roses
Year: 1997

In the pretentenious love ballad, “I’ll Be” Edwin McCain sacrifices his self-respect to show how devoted he is to his girlfriend

Musing guitars and an out-of-style saxophone begin the song.

McCain gives her sweeping, overwritten compliments as though he were aiming to get into his god’s good graces and not his girlfriend’s. He loves the little specks in her hazel eyes which reveal so much of her bubbling personality. He pleads for her to pledge her undying love and to wear her feelings for him. He’ll pay attention to every word she says and notes he will be not heartbroken. (“The strands in your eyes that color them wonderful/ Stop me and steal my breath/Emeralds from mountains thrust toward the sky/Never revealing their depth/Tell me that we belong together/Dress it up with the trappings of love/I’ll be captivated/I’ll hang from your lips/Instead of the gallows of heartache that hang from above”).

In the first verse, the English language not only gets a work out from all the wordiness but it’s also misused. “Dress it up with the trappings of love” may sound really knight-in-armorish but it actually doesn’t make sense. A trapping, according to my is: ” 1. To catch in or as if in a trap; ensnare. 2. To place in a confining or embarrassing position.” He’s talking about catching a concealed. However, it’s already been caught, given the context. Also, hang is used to twice in the same sentence.

In the chorus, he promises her emotional support, lots of encouragement, a sacrificial love, and gives an I.O.U. for maturity (“I’ll be your crying shoulder/I’ll be love suicide/I’ll be better when I’m older/I’ll be the greatest fan of your life”).

It’s pouring rain outside. However they are content inside enjoying each other’s company. He tells her she’s his reason for living and why he feels any emotion at all. (“Rain falls angry on the tin roof/As we lie awake in my bed/You’re my survival, you’re my living proof/My love is alive not dead…”).

In the bridge, he says he’s had a tough life. People have given up on him which led to him being angry. However, he’s gotten that past now. His girlfriend rescued him from becoming a restless, aimless person. (“I’ve been dropped out, burned up, fought my way back from the dead/Tuned in, turned on, Remembered the things that you said”).

The musing guitars and out-of-style saxophone appear one last time for the ending as McCain warbles, “the greatest fan of your life.”

“I’ll Be” is not as smart or poetic as it pretends to be. “I’ll Be” amounts to word mush – a lot of pretty words stirred in with lovely phrases which end up being unappetizing after the first taste.


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