Yacht Rock Essentials: The Story and Meaning Behind “Baby Come Back” by Player

A No. 1 single the first time out is no small feat. That Player wasn’t able to follow up the success of “Baby Come Back” with another hit of that ilk is beside the point. That smash still looms large among soft-rocking fans everywhere.

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What is the song about? How did Player come together? And why weren’t they able to match their initial burst of success? Here is the story of Player’s “Baby Come Back,” a song that no respectable Yacht Rock playlist can do without.

From Chance Meeting to Top of the Charts

Fellow songwriters just have a way of running into each other sometimes. That was the case for Texan J.C. Crowley and Liverpudlian Peter Beckett. The two wound up in Hollywood together at a party, where they were the only two whose outfits didn’t quite fall in with the rest of the crowd. Hence, the seeds for Player were sown.

Beckett was a guitarist and Crowley a keyboardist, so they just needed a rhythm section, which they found in bassist Ronn Moss and drummer John Friesen. The band name came from watching a film on TV and seeing the credits listing the “Players.” Their management had the idea to shop them around by having them lug their equipment and play live at the various record company studios in town.

One record company liked them but folded not long after. Luckily, they were able to quickly catch on with RSO records based on the songs Crowley and Beckett had already written together. One of them in particular, a heartfelt plea for reconciliation, seemed to have a lot of potential.

Oh, “Baby”

Songwriters have the advantage over the rest of us mere mortals in that they can turn heartbreak into triumph. Peter Beckett, reeling from a recent breakup, shared his feelings with J.C. Crowley, who had endured something similar himself not long before that. They poured those emotions into “Baby Come Back.”

Released in late 1977, the song was an absolute juggernaut, which doesn’t usually happen with a new band. It hit No. 1 in January 1978 and stayed at the top spot for three weeks. “This Time I’m in It for Love,” also from their self-titled debut, made it to the Top 10 as well. It looked like Player might have staying power.

But internal squabbles, record company issues, and changing musical tastes doomed them. They were already splintering by the end of ’78 and Crowley soon left to pursue a career as a county music career. Beckett and Moss (who has also enjoyed a long career as an actor, most notably on the soap The Bold and the Beautiful) have kept Player alive. They released an album as recently as 2013, although that founding pair has also split in recent years

What is the Meaning of “Baby Come Back”?

“Baby Come Back” takes the form of a combination apology/plea for reunion. In the verses, Beckett, singing lead, lays out his woeful situation. He tries to ease his pain by partying, but it’s futile: And tryna forget you is just a waste of time. The whole denial bit is wearing on him: All day long, wearing a mask of false bravado.

In the bridge, you can imagine him on his knees pleading his case: Give me the chance to make you see / Have you used up all the love in your heart? / Nothing left for me? Ain’t there nothing left for me? The refrains are reserved for his most direct messaging: Baby come back, you can blame it all in me / I was wrong, and I just can’t live without you.

Members of Player have bemoaned the fact that touring with rockers like Eric Clapton in the late ’70s made them try to change their formula and play harder rock, a genre for which they weren’t well-suited. Well, they certainly had the soft rock part down pat, as “Baby Come Back” has been proving for decades.

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