Classics: Yvonne Elliman – If I Can’t Have You (RSO)
“If I can’t have you, I don’t want nobody baby. If I can’t have you, oh oh oh oh…” Quite a simple vocal hook at the end, immediately bringin’ us back to the souvenir of Yvonne Elliman. But also ‘Saturday Night Fever’ then, more widely, the Disco days. And eventually what would lead to the destruction of the movement a couple of years after.
Don’t get me wrong. I have got nothing against ‘Saturday Night Fever’ and its participants. But more, like often in the history of music, against those who jumped on the wagon with the will to make quick Bucks and done. From artists and producers, and they’ve been quite numerous. To club owners, and I’m more precisely thinkin’ of those of the NYC Studio 54 who’ve almost succeeded to turn Disco into like a circus phenomenon for a local (white) jet society on a continuous quest of (new) sensations.
Born and raised in Honolulu, HI, Yvonne Elliman spent a couple of years in London when she was 18. She relocated to the Big Apple back in 1971. From then, she appeared in the first cast of B’way production, ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’. There, she met her first husband, ‘Bill Oakes, who was working back then with RSO label head, Robert Stigwood. Offered to do backing vocals on Eric Clapton‘s cover version of Bob Marley‘s ‘I Shot The Sheriff, she toured with him before signing a record deal with RSO.
Back in 1977, the Bee Gees who were working on the soundtrack of ‘Saturday Night Fever’, wrote ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ for her. But it was suggested it would be better to have the group singing it. Meanwhile she got offered to sing ‘If I Can’t Have You’ which remains her signature song…