If I Can’t Have You – Yvonne Elliman | Top 40 Chart Performance, Story and Song Meaning

Chart Performance: Pop (#1) & R&B (#60); 1978

Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne

Not only did Yvonne Elliman take on the role of Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ, Superstar, she had some super credentials of her own. Among them: singing backup vocals on Eric Clapton’s I Shot The Sheriff and touring with him, plus working on solo projects with Pete Townsend of The Who and Steve Cropper from Booker T. & The M.G.’s.

Then producer Robert Stigwood tagged her for the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, and once again Yvonne found herself surrounded by rock royalty. The Bee Gees penned How Deep Is Your Love specifically for her, but she ended up belting out If I Can’t Have You when Stigwood insisted on using the Gibb brothers for Love.

Freddie Perren – who co-wrote/co-produced The Jackson 5’s I Want You Back, The Miracles’ Love Machine, and The Sylvers’ Boogie Fever – also produced If I Can’t Have You. Come Grammy time, Yvonne shared in the superstar award of the evening when Saturday Night Fever was named Best Album of the Year.

This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2024 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.


  • Freddie Perren

Lyrics Writer:

  • Barry
  • Robin
  • Maurice Gibb