If I Can’t Have You (Bee Gees song)

If I Can’t Have You” is a disco song written by the Bee Gees in 1977. The song initially appeared on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack in a version by Yvonne Elliman, released in November 1977. The Bee Gees‘ own version appeared a month later as the B-side of “Stayin’ Alive“.

1977 song by the Bee Gees

“If I Can’t Have You”
Song by Bee Gees
A-side Stayin’ Alive
Released
  • 13 December 1977 (US)
  • 6 January 1978 (UK)
Recorded
  • January and February 1977
  • September 1977
Studio
Genre Disco
Length 3:25
Label RSO
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
Audio
“If I Can’t Have You” on YouTube

The song later appeared on the Bee Gees’ compilation Their Greatest Hits: The Record. The remixed version was released and remastered in the compilation Bee Gees Greatest in 2007 and marked the return of the Bee Gees to the US Hot Dance Tracks charts after 28 years. According to Maurice, this track was the first song they did while they were recording the other songs for the film. The recording was started at Château d’Hérouville as a basic track only and completed later at Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles.[1]

. . . If I Can’t Have You (Bee Gees song) . . .

“If I Can’t Have You”

Side A of US 7″ single
Single by Yvonne Elliman
from the album Saturday Night Feverand Night Flight
B-side “Good Sign”
Released
  • November 1977 (Saturday Night Fever soundtrack)
  • 23 January 1978 (single)
Recorded 1977
Genre Disco
Length
  • 2:57
  • 4:00 (extended version)
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s) Freddie Perren
Yvonne Elliman singles chronology
I Can’t Get You Outa My Mind
(1977)
If I Can’t Have You
(1977)
Moment by Moment
(1978)
Audio
“If I Can’t Have You” on YouTube
Yvonne Elliman

The song was recorded by Yvonne Elliman for the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.

Although Yvonne Elliman had cut her 1976 album, Love Me, with producer Freddie Perren, who was a major force in the disco movement (Perren had produced the Sylvers‘ 1976 number 1 “Boogie Fever” and would soon collaborate with Gloria Gaynor on the disco anthem “I Will Survive“), Love Me had showcased Elliman not as a disco artist but rather as a pop ballad singer, notably on the title cut, a Barry Gibb composition that Elliman turned into an international hit. It was originally intended that Elliman’s contribution to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack would be another ballad written by the Gibb brothers, “How Deep Is Your Love“.

Meanwhile, the Bee Gees recorded their own version of “If I Can’t Have You” for the film. However, RSO Records chairman and Bee Gees manager Robert Stigwood, who was executive-producing the Saturday Night Fever album, dictated that the Bee Gees record “How Deep Is Your Love” and Elliman be given the disco-style “If I Can’t Have You”.

Stigwood’s decisions proved a success as the soundtrack’s first single, the Bee Gees’ version of the ballad “How Deep Is Your Love”, shot to number one, followed to the top spot by the soundtrack’s second and third singles, also by the Gibb brothers, “Stayin’ Alive” and “Night Fever“. Elliman’s “If I Can’t Have You”, produced by Perren, was released as the fourth single off the Saturday Night Fever album in February 1978. Billboard Magazine praised Elliman’s “powerful” vocal performance.[2] As the first single off the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack not performed by the Bee Gees, “If I Can’t Have You” would become the fourth number 1 hit from the album, reaching the number one spot on the US Hot 100 in Billboard dated May 13, 1978, ending an eight-week number 1 tenure by “Night Fever”. “If I Can’t Have You” was the fourth consecutive US number 1 to be co-written by Barry Gibb, and the RSO record label’s sixth consecutive number one on the US Hot 100. The B-side of the Elliman single was a song from the Love Me album, “Good Sign”, a composition by Melissa Manchester and Carole Bayer Sager which had also served as the B-side of Elliman’s hit “Hello Stranger“.

Far from the success going to Elliman’s head or giving her ideas of following up the sudden disco success with a deeper foray into the genre, a contemporary interview by journalist Peter J. Boyer found Elliman dismissive of her number 1 hit, referring to it in conversation only casually as “that current thing from Saturday Night Fever“. In spite of the coattail success she’s had with “If I Can’t Have You”, it’s a disco song and Elliman decided her broad, husky vocals are best suited elsewhere. “If I Can’t Have You” was featured on Elliman’s February 1978 album release Night Flight, which, apart from that song, was produced by Robert Appère and was not disco-oriented. No song from Night Flight was issued as a follow-up single to “If I Can’t Have You”, Elliman’s next single being a rock ballad entitled “Savannah” which failed to consolidate Elliman’s potential mainstream stardom. Elliman did return to disco music in 1979 with “Love Pains” which returned her to the US Top 40 one more time before she dropped out of the music scene in the 1980s.

Elliman’s “If I Can’t Have You” was also featured in the 1999 film Big Daddy as well as on its soundtrack album.

. . . If I Can’t Have You (Bee Gees song) . . .

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