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153: I Can Help

OK, I know it’s not midweek, as I’d promised. But I am back after an unscheduled hiatus, and with any luck I’ll be posting more regularly. Patrons, I’ll be updating you regularly in the Newsletter (which I swear won’t be so much about me, but you’re on the journey too and I do appreciate your support).

“I Can Help” is one of those songs that managed to come together very quickly for Billy Swan, and it turned into his biggest hit as a songwriter, and his only hit as a performer. One of the things I like about it is the way that it feels like a generic offer of assistance, not unlike Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me,” and yet at the same time there’s a little undercurrent of a guy who’s desperate to get out of the Friend Zone (“If your child needs a daddy, I can help.”—really?). But on the casual listen you don’t really care, because of the way that Farfisa organ just carries you along, like you’re in a skating rink and just along for the ride.

One of the cool things about Billy Swan, though, is that he really wasn’t cut out to be a rock star. He greatly preferred being the sideman. And as soon as all the excitement over “I Can Help” died down, he went beck to playing in Kris Kristofferson’s tour band. Part of that, he thinks, is because he was never comfortable having to talk in between the songs. If all he had to do was sing, he’d probably be okay.

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