Song written by Barry, Maurice & Robin Gibb, a.k.a. the Bee Gees.
Bee Gees version
Originally the Bee Gees intended to record the song themselves for the follow-up album to 'Children of the world' (1976), but when they became involved in the production of the movie 'Saturday night fever', they gave the song to Yvonne Elliman. In the end, they also recorded the song themselves as the B-side of the single 'Stayin' Alive' in 1978. The track also appears on the 2001 compilation 'Bee Gees Their Greatest Hits: The Record'. A remixed version of The Bee Gees recording was released on the remastered version of 'Bee Gees Greatest'.
Yvonne Elliman version
Yvonne Elliman recorded the song for the soundtrack of 'Saturday night fever'. It became an international smash hit, and reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and number 4 in the UK singles chart.
Kim Wilde version
Kim Wilde recorded 'If I can't have you as one of two new songs on the 'greatest hits' compilation The Singles Collection 1981-1993.
The track gave Kim the chart success she needed to promote the album.
The single was released on 7" single, 12" single, cassette single and CD-single.
See also this page in the discography.
There are seven versions of 'If I Can't Have You': the album version, the 12" Kelsey mix, the 7" Kelsey mix, the dub mix, the extended version, the John Robinson mix (a.k.a. 'Made in Japan') and the John Robinson instrumental.
There were also a couple of remixes from DJ remix services, such as a remix by John Moffett for Hot Tracks, a remix by Warren Sanford for Direct Hit and another remix released by Music Pool in Australia.
A music video was filmed to promote the single.
Go to this page for more information.
'If I can't have you' was performed live during the Hits Tour in 1994, during a concert at Tivoli in Copenhagen in 2003, the Here & Now Tour in Australia in 2003, the Here & Now Greatest Hits Tour in 2003, Here & Now Tour 2004, several gigs in 2005 and 2006, Here & Now Tour 2009, the tour with Nik Kershaw in Australia in 2013, Christmas gigs in December 2013, Dutch tours in October 2015 and October 2016, Kim's tour with Howard Jones in Australia in 2016 and the Here Come the Aliens Tour in 2018 and 2019.
Kim about 'If I can't have you'
Actually, it's my sister-in-law's idea, Mandy, and I was sitting and talking to my brother about song recordings we were doing and she came in and she said, "what a great record, have you ever thought about covering that?" (1)
We wanted to set it up properly. I didn't want to throw away 13 years of success with a No. 75 record. So we worked really hard writing material, but quite frankly, we weren't coming up with the kind of material that we felt would get us back into the charts. And so we decided to do a cover... take a slightly less dangerous route. If we'd felt that we had the song that could have been a hit, we'd have been overjoyed. But we didn't think we had, especially after the last two singles not doing very well at all. So we thought, sod it! We're gonna do a bloody good cover!
We went through the 'Guinness Book of Hit Singles' and our record collection. Ricki had the relics of our 70s assortment, which was quite sweet - lots of things by Cat Stevens but we were getting absolutely nowhere. Then his wife walked in and suggested 'If I Can't Have You'. I'd always thought it was one of the classier songs on the "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack - it transcended it in many ways. So we tried it and it worked!
We also tried several other songs, ones which if I told you what they were, you'd say, 'What a great idea'. But they just sounded terrible. Some songs certainly do not suit my voice, or suit being covered. (2)
Why a cover? I will be honest, we wanted to release a greatest hits album for a long time, but we didn't feel confident after the mediocre success of 'Love is holy'. To launch the project we needed a big hit. And when we talked about it, maybe half a year ago, Rick (her brother) and I didn't have a feeling we wrote one. We just couldn't. So ultimately we decided to do a cover.A really good one. Then Rick's wife came up with If I can't have you. I've always liked the song. And I have good memories of it. (3)
Highest chart positions
Australia: 2 (20 weeks)
Ireland: 9 (5 weeks)
Netherlands: 23 (6 weeks)
Sweden: 30 (4 weeks)
Switzerland: 18 (12 weeks)
United Kingdom: 12 (8 weeks)