He sang some of the most romantic ballads of an entire generation of millennials in the late ’90s.
This week, singer/songwriter Edwin McCain rocks the D.C. region twice, first at The Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia, on Thursday, Oct. 5, followed by Rams Head On Stage in Annapolis, Maryland, on Friday, Oct. 6.
On his way, he’s stopping by CFG Bank Arena in Baltimore to watch Queen with Adam Lambert on Wednesday. He told WTOP he’s excited to meet Brian May.
“My manager, Wally, used to be Queen’s tour manager back in the day and he and Brian are still good friends, so I get to go with him to go see Queen and meet Brian May, so I’m really excited,” McCain told WTOP. “I try not to meet too many of my heroes, but I’m not gonna pass up an opportunity to meet him, so that’s gonna be fun. … ‘Can anybody find me [Somebody to Love],’ I love that song, that is a great tune.”
Born in Greenville, South Carolina, in 1970, McCain got his start performing at frat houses on college campuses on the East Coast in the early 1990s, alongside fellow rising stars like Dave Matthews and Hootie & the Blowfish.
“I remember one weekend we were at [Washington and Lee University] with Dave Matthews, The Grates, Hootie & the Blowfish, Jackopierce — all on one campus in one weekend,” McCain said. “People were just running back and forth to different fraternity houses, it was crazy! Just a short few months later, Dave and Hootie were playing amphitheaters and we were opening for them. … It was the perfect timing, it was the end of grunge and everyone was tired of feeling sad.”
In 1994, he signed with Lava Records, an offshoot of Atlantic Records, to release his first album, “Honor Among Thieves” (1995), but it was his second album, “Misguided Roses” (1997), that blew up with the hit song “I’ll Be,” which quadrupled McCain’s record sales after it appeared on an episode of TV’s “Dawson’s Creek” (1998-2003).
“This dude in a bar was hitting on a girl and he was just drunk enough to fumble his words; he meant to say, ‘I’ll be your shoulder to cry on,’ but went, ‘I’ll be your crying shoulder,’ and I wrote it down on a napkin,” McCain said. “When I got home, doing my laundry, I’d get my scraps of paper out and see if there was anything song-worthy. … I sat down on my futon and wrote this song. Thank God I did; otherwise, I’d be your favorite pizza delivery guy.”
His third album, “Messenger” (1999) arrived the same year as the movie soundtrack “Message in a Bottle” (1999), both of which featured McCain’s hit, “I Could Not Ask for More,” later covered by country star Sara Evans. It was written by Diane Warren, who wrote Cher’s “If I Could Turn Back Time” (1989), Celine Dion’s “Because You Loved Me” (1996), LeAnn Rimes’ “How Do I Live” (1997) and Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” (1998).
“I didn’t know who she was,” McCain said. “I listened to the song and hated it because the tempo was about half of the speed it is now and there was a verse that was so Hallmark card-y and I was like, ‘Ugh, I’m not doing this.’ … The label said, ‘What if we pay you to do it for a soundtrack?’ I was like, ‘Alright, I’ll do that.’ … I reluctantly had a hit! … Now I love it, a great song is a great song. … It was definitely a hit song and I was just too dumb to realize it.”
You’ll hear these songs and more this week at The Birchmere and Rams Head.
“Our crowd has a certain group of songs that they always want to hear, so I’m definitely playing that, then I’ll probably play some new stuff,” McCain said. “We’re playing full band this time. A lot of times when we’re playing The Birchmere and Rams Head, we’re usually doing that as an acoustic trio, but we’re going to bring a full band to these venues now and really rock it up a little bit, so I’m really looking forward to that.”
Hear our full conversation on my podcast “Beyond the Fame” below: