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October 31

The 1974 Major Hit Single of Billy Swan, “I Can Help”

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The 1974 Major Hit Single of Billy Swan, “I Can Help” 1

The 1974 hit “I Can Help” is written and performed by country singer, Billy Swan. It was a big crossover hit because it reached No. 1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Country Singles charts. Even though Swan had other charting singles on both the Hot 100 and Country charts, the song is generally known as being Swan’s only major hit single release, but he had continued success as a songwriter for other artists.

The song ‘I Can Help’ was written on March 1974. It was also during that time Billy Swan recorded it with producer and engineer Chip Young at the Young’un Sound studio in Murfreesboro, TN. The distinctive keyboards were played by Swan on a portable Farfisa belonging to Memphis session musician Bobby Emmons. “Chip was excited after he recorded that part, but I went out there and listened to it, and I said, ‘Boy, I don’t know.’ I listened to it over and over, until finally, I said, ‘Hey, man, nothing else will work.’ It was actually a great solo so that just shows you where my head is at. That part was so perfect, and today a lot of people remember the song because of that solo.” Swan recalls

Swan’s version of ‘I Can Help’ was released toward the end of July 1974. To make more money additionally from the song’s commercial success, the co-producers returned to Young’un Sound to record more material for an I Can Help album. This included covers of ‘Don’t Be Cruel’, ‘Shake, Rattle & Roll’ and Swan’s own ‘Lover Please’.

Unfortunately, the success of the song had led the record company to argue for which would be the first single on the album; “Everyone at the record company had actually wanted ‘The Ways of a Woman in Love’ to be the first single,” Chip Young recalls. “I said, ‘No, wait a minute. That’s not the hit. The hit is ‘I Can Help’.’ However, [Monument Records president] Fred Foster then hired a guy who was supposed to know the ins and outs of the business, and he said, ‘There aren’t any hits here. We’ve gotta re-cut a bunch of stuff.’ I said, ‘No, we don’t have to re-cut a bunch of stuff.’ It was a battle from then on.”


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