Every #1 Single of the Nineties: Joe Diffie, “So Help Me Girl”

“So Help Me Girl”

Joe Diffie

Written by Howard Perdew and Andy Spooner

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

March 31, 1995

Joe Diffie returns with a ballad that could use some help.

The Road to No. 1

Joe Diffie enjoyed two previous No. 1 hits from Third Rock From the Sun – the title track and “Pickup Man” – and earned one more with the third single from the album.

The No. 1

Joe Diffie’s talent as a balladeer was second to none, which is why it’s all the more surprising how lackluster this particular record is.

I think the issue is the song itself.  There isn’t a memorable melody or compelling hook, so Diffie spends most of his time in a lower gear, almost talking the lyrics instead of singing them.

Things pick up once he lets loose with his vocals toward the end and we get to hear some of his range.

It’s better by him than it would’ve been by John Michael Montgomery, yet still far beneath the standard set by his classic ballads.

The Road From No. 1

The fourth single from Third Rock was “I’m in Love With a Capital ‘U’,” which justly missed the top twenty.  The fifth and final single, the gorgeous “That Road Not Taken,” then unjustly barely cracked the top forty.  Diffie returns to No. 1 in 1996 with the lead single from his fifth studio album.

“So Help Me Girl” gets a C.

Every No. 1 Single of the Nineties

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  1. Ooh, I’ve always loved this one! It’s actually one of my favorite love songs of the decade, and I didn’t know it was a number one. Yeah, it’s definitely more of a John Michael Montgomery style ballad, but I always thought Joe did a great job with it. I really love his tender vocals on it, throughout. I especially always liked how he sang the lines in the second verse: “You just had to hold me like nobody else. Now look what you’ve gone and done.” That part always brings a smile to my face whenever I hear it. I also love how he sounds when he delivers the last line at the end of the song: “Now I can’t help myself, so help me girl.” And yes, that high note he hits on the final chorus is so good! (And that’s actually only on the single/video version. He didn’t quite go for that big note on the original cd/album version.) Even the harmony vocals singing the chorus as he wails out that big note is very pretty sounding. I think the song actually has quite a beautiful, memorable melody, as well, which is one of the reasons why it’s always been a favorite for me. I especially love the melody in the verses. And finally, I love the smooth sound of Paul Franklin’s steel guitar heard throughout, especially at the very end. Overall, I just love how smooth and heartfelt this song is from beginning to end.

    I do remember hearing this at least a few times in the mid 90’s, but the moment I really fell in love with it was when I heard it as a recurrent in the Summer of 1998. My parents and I were shopping for a new car that summer and they were test driving different cars. One day when my step dad was testing a Chevy Malibu we were looking at (and we did end up getting a Malibu), this song came on the radio. I instantly loved it, and I recalled it being one from Joe that I hadn’t heard in a while. My mom was even humming along to it, which was not something that happened too often when it came to newer country.

    In 2004, I grew to love this song even more after I found a used copy of the Third Rock From The Sun album in a music store at the Rockvale Outlets when we were in Lancaster, PA. For a while, that was another cd that I would often listen to whenever we went to Pennsylvania in the mid 00’s, and I especially would listen to “So Help Me Girl,” “That Road Not Taken,” and “From Here On Out” over and over. One time when we were staying at the Hampton Inn in Frazer, PA, I even nearly got caught singing “So Help Me Girl” out loud in the public restroom in the hotel’s lobby when someone else walked in, lol. Whenever we returned to that hotel, this is one of the songs I would always think about. :) Even on our trips to Pennsylvania as recent as the mid-late 2010’s, I would always make it a point to include those three Diffie songs mentioned above on the playlist I’d listen to during the trip, because they always bring back wonderful memories of times my family and I spent in those areas.

    I’ve always loved the music video for this song, as well, and it’s another one I’d always enjoy seeing on GAC Classic. It really fits the feel of the song well, and it’s yet another fine showcase for Joe’s superb mullet from back then. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNNDud0HWYE

  2. I like this one a lot. It’s one of my favorite love balads of the nineties. I’ll have to listen to “The Road Not Taken” again, because it wasn’t one of the songs that stood out to me back when I listened to this album a lot. Third Rock from the Sun is my favorite Diffie album.

  3. This is a perfect example of how Diffie could elevate a song because of his vocal gifts and range. As Kevin mentioned, I can easily hear this song sounding flat in the hands of John Michael Montgomery, but also imagine the whimpering treacle Doug Stone would have made of this.

    This song works entirely because of Diffie.

    I know Tracy Lawrence and Clay Walker have are being celebrated most recently in this feature as being underappreciated for how insanely good they were and I just wanted to remind people Diffie received similar praise and love earlier in the decade.

    I still think he had the ability and potential to produce a classic hard-country album once he was totally freed of industry pressure and expectations, once Nashville had forgotten him enough to give him that creative space.

    • Unfortunately, we won’t be covering my favorite Diffie songs from later in his radio days, but he put out some brilliant stuff. “A Night to Remember” is my all-time favorite Diffie track, and I loved “In Another World” and “It’s Always Somethin'” too.

      • Man, I love “A Night To Remember” so much! I’m super bummed to learn that it didn’t reach number one on any chart. I also really like “It’s Always Something” and “In Another World,” as well. I always thought the futuristic/spacey feel of the production on “In Another World” was pretty cool, especially.

        Personally, I think the A Night To Remember album is where he struck the perfect balance between the traditional style and the more contemporary sounds of late 90’s country.

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