I’ll Be – Edwin McCain (Lyrics, Song Review and Meaning)
Got a wedding coming up? It may be a cliche, but you simply can’t beat doing the first dance with your soul mate to the mesmerizing tunes and lyrics of “I’ll Be” by Edwin McCain. A breakup song turned a wedding song, Edwin McCain never envisioned “I’ll Be” as a romantic song. But from the release of the song in 1998 until now, it is one of the most played songs at weddings. It is simply that glorious, beautiful and enchanting.
“It was kind of a Hail Mary prayer for me, personally. And it’s been obviously linked as a romantic song. It’s one of those things that I hesitate to say too much, because sometimes songs become what they were supposed to be, and it’s not really up to the songwriter to determine what that is.”
Watch Edwin McCain perform “I’ll Be” below.
What makes this song such a mesmerizing attraction? For one thing, the tune is just classic. Another would be the fact that Edwin McCain’s voice is just god-given. On top of that there’s the genius bit of lyrical work. The words are just perfection. He creates beauty out of the seemingly ordinary words because the meaning of those lyrics are so deep and emotional.
Song Meaning, Lyrics Review of “I’ll Be” by Edwin McCain
“I’ll Be” song does not wait around to get to the cherry on top. Right from the ‘go’, it’s an endless piece of art by Edwin McCain.
The first verse goes as follows;
The strands in your eyes that color them wonderful
Stop me and steal my breath
Emeralds from mountains and thrust towards 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
Edwin McCain describes the eyes of his love in the first few sentences. The emerald and sky blue colour strands in her eyes which makes it hard for him to breathe. The words are so simple, yet elegant. They just do justice to the meaning of the song.
The singer wants her to say that they will stay together forever. In saying so, he wants her to soak her words in love and emotion. He will be captivated at her words, every word she murmurs in his ears, and he will rest his conscious in her words. ‘Gallows’ is a wooden plank that was used in the history to hand people. Yes, Edwin McCain even speaks about a killer hanging platform inside this beautiful song, but we are already too captivated in the romantic aspect of it, we don’t even notice the gallows.
“I’ll Be” singer says he just wants to consort himself on her words (trapped with love) instead of worrying about the obvious heartaches which float above the sky.
The first verse of “I’ll Be” sums up the situation the singer is in. He is madly in love with her. He just wants to live in the moment without worrying about the obvious dark clouds that are hanging over his relationship.
I’ll be your cryin’ shoulder
I’ll be love suicide
I’ll be better when I’m older
I’ll be the greatest fan of your life
The chorus of the song contains probably one of the most quoted romantic lines ever-“I’ll be the greatest fan of your life…”
Edwin McCain says he will be there in her sorrows. For better and worse, till death do us part, right?
Edwin McCain himself explains the rest of the few lines of the chorus.
“It was the end of a relationship for me, and it was also an admission of my inability to function in a relationship, hence the love suicide line. And it was the hope that I would be better, grow and be better as a person.”
Although not directly admitted by Edwin McCain, this specific relationship came to an end because his girlfriend broke up with him to move to Hollywood to pursue her dream of becoming a Hollywood celebrity. If this is true, we can make more sense of the line “greatest fan..” because celebrities have fans.
The second stanza of “I’ll Be” is as follows;
And 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 and not dead
The turmoils of his relationship is explained in these lines. A tin roof is not a permanent roof. The slightest rain drop makes the biggest noises on a tin roof. And they cannot sleep on account of what’s to come.
We also can look at this tin roofed house as their relationship. A tin roof, again, means a temporary fixture which will fall and crash easily. The pressure from the outsiders makes a loud noise in their relationship. And they cannot be at peace with all that’s going on surrounding their relationship.
“I look back on that time and the moment when I wrote the song, and we were in danger of being dropped from the record label, and the label was not happy with my sales numbers.” – Edwin McCain
Edwin McCain is absolutely head over heels for this girl. She is his life. She is his proof that his love is alive. In other words, without her in his life, his love would be dead, even maybe his life too.
And I’ve dropped out, burned up, fought my way back from the dead
Tuned in, turned on, remembered the thing you said
More turmoils of the singer that he faced along his love cruise. He fought his way back from being metaphorically dead fueled by the words of his lover. The words? Let your imagination run wild.
The chorus of “I’ll Be” runs for another couple of times (actually more than that) and this great song comes to an end.
Edwin McCain did not intend this song to be a wedding song. But as he said, songs have the ability of taking a life on its own. Although released in the 90’s, “I’ll Be” will live on forever through the countless weddings and first dances it will be played and cherished on.
I once attended a wedding where the groom sang this song for his ‘just married’. It was beautiful. He wasn’t the best of singers, that made it even more beautiful.