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If I Can't Have You

"If I Can't Have You"
as Side B of single "Stayin' Alive"
Single by Bee Gees
from the album Saturday Night Fever: The Original Movie Sound Track
A-side "Stayin' Alive"
Released 13 December 1977 (US)
6 January 1978 (UK)
Format 7" single, 12" single
Recorded January and February 1977, Le Chateau, Herouville, France
September 1977, Cherokee Studios, Los Angeles, California
Genre Disco
Length 3:25
Label RSO
Writer(s) Barry, Robin & Maurice Gibb
Producer(s) Bee Gees, Albhy Galuten, Karl Richardson
Bee Gees singles chronology
"How Deep Is Your Love"
"Stayin' Alive" / "If I Can't Have You"
"Night Fever"

"If I Can't Have You" is a disco song written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb 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' version appeared a month later as the B-side of "Stayin' Alive".

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]


  • Personnel 1
  • Yvonne Elliman version 2
    • Chart performance 2.1
  • Kim Wilde version 3
    • Chart performance 3.1
  • Other cover versions 4
    • Samples and interpolations 4.1
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Yvonne Elliman version

"If I Can't Have You"
Single by Yvonne Elliman
from the album Saturday Night Fever: The Original Movie Sound Track
B-side "Good Sign"
Released November 1977 (Saturday Night Fever soundtrack)
23 January 1978 (single)
Format 7", 45rpm
Recorded 1977
Genre Disco
Length 2:57
4:00 (extended version)
Label RSO, Polydor
Writer(s) Barry, Robin & Maurice Gibb
Producer(s) Freddie Perren
Certification Gold (RIAA)
Yvonne Elliman singles chronology
"I Can't Get You Outa My Mind"
"If I Can't Have You"
"Moment by Moment"
Saturday Night Fever track listing

"If I Can't Have You" 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 which had provided Elliman with 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".

Yvonne Elliman

Meanwhile, the Bee Gees produced 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 themselves record "How Deep Is Your Love" with Elliman being given a shot at the disco-style "If I Can't Have You".

The decision 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 brothers Gibb, "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. 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 film, reaching the top spot on the Hot 100 in Billboard dated 13 May 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 sixth consecutive to be released on the RSO record label. The B-side of the single was a track from the Love Me album, "Good Sign", a composition by Melissa Manchester and Carole Bayer Sager which had previously 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 track was produced by Robert Appère and was not disco-oriented. No track 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 Top 40 one more time before she dropped out of the music scene in the 1980s.

"If I Can't Have You" (Yvonne Elliman's version) was also featured in the 1999 film Big Daddy as well as on the film's soundtrack.

Chart performance

Chart (1978) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[2] 1
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[3] 24
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary[4] 2
Canadian RPM Top Singles[5] 1
France (SNEP)[2] 5
Irish Singles Chart[6] 9
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[7] 28
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[8] 31
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[9] 6
UK (Official Charts Company)[10] 4
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[11] 1
U.S. Billboard Hot R&B Singles[11] 60
Preceded by
"Night Fever" by Bee Gees
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single (Yvonne Elliman version)
13 May 1978
Succeeded by
"With a Little Luck" by Wings

Kim Wilde version

"If I Can't Have You"
Single by Kim Wilde
from the album The Singles Collection 1981–1993
B-side "Never Felt So Alive"
Released 28 June 1993
Format 7", 12", cassette single, CD-single
Recorded 1993
Genre Disco
Length 3:27
Label MCA
Writer(s) Barry, Robin & Maurice Gibb
Producer(s) Ricki Wilde
Kim Wilde singles chronology
"Million Miles Away"
"If I Can't Have You"
"In My Life"

The song was covered in 1993 by British singer Kim Wilde and recorded as one of two new tracks on her compilation album The Singles Collection 1981–1993. The single reached number 12 in the UK. It became Wilde's biggest hit of the 1990s and one of the biggest hits of her career in Australia, where it reached number 3.

It was released in several extended remixes on the 12" and CD-single formats. The B-side was an exclusive non-album track called "Never Felt So Alive".

Chart performance

Chart (1993) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[12] 3
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[13] 29
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[14] 6
France (SNEP)[15] 62
Germany (Official German Charts)[16] 51
Irish Singles Chart[6] 9
Italy (FIMI) 16
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[17] 23
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[18] 18
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[19] 24
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[20] 18
UK (Official Charts Company)[21] 12
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play[11] 14
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales[11] 48

Other cover versions

  • English pop duo This Way Up covered "If I Can't Have You" in 1987, from their album Feelin' Good About It.
  • Jesse Hultberg, the first performer to cover the song as a ballad, recorded it in his 1994 solo album. A video of the song can be found here
  • Eve's Plum, a pop rock band that existed from 1991 to 1998, recorded a cover in 1995 which found its way onto a compilation CD.
  • An abbreviated version of "If I Can't Have You" was included in the "70's Moment Medley" featured on the 1998 Gloria Estefan single release "Don't Let This Moment End".
  • Wilber Pan recorded a Mandarin language version for his 2003 album Pass Me The Mic.[22]
  • Australian group Young Divas covered the song in 2007 for their second album New Attitude.
  • Adam Lambert performed the song as his selection during disco week of season 8 of American Idol. Instead of performing the song the original way, Lambert made it into a ballad, which was highly praised by the judges. Jesse Hultberg had already recorded the song as a ballad in 1994.
  • Sharleen Spiteri covered the song for her 2010 album The Movie Songbook.
  • In 2012, the song was covered by Naya Rivera in the sixteenth episode of the third season of Glee.

Samples and interpolations

  • German Eurodance group Chyp-Notic's 1990 single "If I Can't Have U" contains an interpolation of "If I Can't Have You".
  • Eurodance artist B.G., the Prince of Rap uses the melody of the chorus for his 1995 song "Can't Love You".
  • LFO reworked "If I Can't Have You" as "Can't Have You" for their 1999 self-titled album only replicating the choruses, the verses being changed to rapping.
  • DJ Khaled sampled part of this song in his 2007 single "Brown Paper Bag", from his album We the Best.


  1. ^ "Gibb Songs: 1977"
  2. ^ a b Steve Hawtin; et al. "Tsort - Chart positions around the world". 
  3. ^ " – Yvonne Elliman – If I Can't Have You" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  4. ^ "If I can't have you in Canadian Adult Contemporary Chart". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  5. ^ "If I can't have you in Canadian Top Singles Chart". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "If I can't have you in Irish Chart". IRMA. Retrieved 8 July 2013.  Only results when searching "If I can't have you"
  7. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Yvonne Elliman search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
  8. ^ " – Yvonne Elliman – If I Can't Have You" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  9. ^ " – Yvonne Elliman – If I Can't Have You". Top 40 Singles.
  10. ^ "1978 Top 40 Official UK Singles Archive - 27th May 1978". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  11. ^ a b c d "Yvonne Elliman awards on Allmusic". Allmusic. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  12. ^ " – Kim Wilde – If I Can't Have You". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  13. ^ " – Kim Wilde – If I Can't Have You" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  14. ^ " – Kim Wilde – If I Can't Have You" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  15. ^ "If I can't have you in French Chart" (in French). Dominic DURAND / InfoDisc. 8 July 2013. Retrieved 8 July 2013.  You have to use the index at the top of the page and search "Kim Wilde"
  16. ^ " – Kim Wilde – If I Can't Have You". GfK Entertainment.
  17. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Kim Wilde search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
  18. ^ " – Kim Wilde – If I Can't Have You" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  19. ^ " – Kim Wilde – If I Can't Have You". Singles Top 60.
  20. ^ " – Kim Wilde – If I Can't Have You". Swiss Singles Chart.
  21. ^ "1993 Top 40 Official UK Singles Archive - 17th July 1993". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  22. ^ Wilber Pan/Pass Me The Mic album liner notes.

External links

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