If

Album: Manna (1971)
Charted: 4
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Songfacts®:

  • This acoustic ballad is one of Bread's trademark tunes. The band's keyboardist David Gates said: "I wrote that one night at the dining room table, after my kids and my wife had gone to bed. It took me about an hour and a half, with an extra verse left over. If you look at it, there's a few bizarre lines in there, like 'you and I would simply fly away' - that's kind of an unusual thought. When I was done, I said, 'That's the best song I've ever written and probably will be the best song I'll ever write.' For me it's really held up over time, more than any of the others." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Nick - Paramus, NJ
  • Dolly Parton covered this on her 2002 bluegrass album, Halos & Horns. Her version was released as a single in Europe and peaked at #73 in the UK.
  • Kojak actor Telly Savalas recorded a spoken-word version that went to #1 in the UK in 1975.

Comments: 24

  • Kmad From Illinois from IllinoisI was 10yrs old playing in my mom and dad's bedroom, I had turned on my dad's transistor radio and this song came on and I always thought it was pretty but sad. For some reason I changed the words "if a man" to "if I." I couldn't stop looking of this beautiful picture of my mom on their chest of drawers. I took it down and held it close and started crying. My mom came in and asked me what was wrong. I told her I didn't know what I would do if anything happened her, she hugged me and told me "You would simply go on." Till this day I can't listen to the song without tears, especially today 44 years after her death. She was right, but she never told me hard it would be to go on without her. Still, it is a beautiful song with different meanings to people.
  • Darryl from MnMy wife and I were married in 1972, So much going on and did not hear it then. As a tenor, thinking about losing my wife, and trying to sing it, I simply cry before I can finish it. The song simply penetrates my heart About 3/4 of it is so close to home. Love it.
  • AnonymousThis song is about Samantha and Darrin Stevens of Bewitched..
  • C. Ed Margraff from Marion, OhioThe song has become my all-time favorite. It has so much meaning and yet so many interpretations of its meaning. I can't listen without tears.
  • Rog from FloridaWhat was the extra verse that David Gates mentioned?
  • Mari from PhilippinesMy view of this song is about God. Specially on that part that goes "and when my love for life is running dry, u come and poured yourself on me". It always reminds me of how Jesus died on the cross for the salvation of our sins and poured out his spirit on us for the restoration of our spirit.
  • AnonymousI like the Frank Sinatra version very much
    Reintroduced the song to me
  • Henry from Hayward, CaliforniaBrings back many memories of my childhood and teen years. Very beautiful song. :)
  • Karen from Oklahoma Brings back memories of my youth. My best friend died in a train wreck 1971. I was supposed to be sitting beside her. At last moment my mom didn't let me go. I miss Jenna Penual, my red headed bestie.
  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenAs if 2019, David Gates had been happily married to his wife, Jo Rita, for 60 years. Way to go, David!
  • Julie from TennesseeHauntingly beautiful song that touches my soul and heart. My husband died a few years ago. This was my song to him the moment I heard. Begins loving memories and turns me into a crying blob! Still love it, and him.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 8th 1975, Telly Savalas' covered version of "If" peaked at #1 {for 2 weeks} on the United Kingdom's Singles chart...
    His version did not make Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart...
    And on February 15th, 1981 his covered version of Don Williams' "Some Broken Hearts Never Mend" reached #1 {for 2 weeks} on the Swiss Top Singles chart...
    Aristotelis 'Telly' Savalas passed away on January 22nd, 1994; the day after his 72nd birthday...
    May he R.I.P.
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxAn acquaintance of mine altered one line to: "If a face can launch a thousand ships, then why can't I launch you?"
  • Alika from Houston, TxI enjoy reading the comments in this space, about Bread's "If". Remarkable time, personally, when we could punch the car's radio and a couple of FM stations would be playing it since it was on top 40 listings everywhere. But as time wore on, it wasn't broadcast anymore. I don't know why but just married with kids, we were pretty low income, going to college at night, couldn't afford much. But the little band I was part of decided to play it. I went out and bought the first cassette of any group or song ever. I treasure this cassette by Bread. The music, lyrics, and their repertoire has been tested in time, it still holds up. "If" is a one-of-a-kind piece of art, CONSTANTLY sought in YouTube but some recording publishing company that owns (?) the rights constantly removes every upload of If. The stuff you want the most is often the thing you can't have.
  • Neal from Hooterville, MiThis song charted the day after I was born!
  • Cameron from Lewiston, IdMy girlfriend played this song on the piano for me before I left her on a 2 year assignment. I never got to hold her again.
  • Gail from Tucson, AzIn 1979, when we first met my husband seduced me with this song and several others from The Bread Anthology. What great lyrics for lovers!
  • Joe from Laredo, TxThis song has followed me all my life. I just don't hear as often as I use too. I think it is a classic that will remain solid for years to come. David Gates got it right.
  • Mark from Lewistown, PaAn excrutiatingly beautiful song, full of love and longing. Played this over and over after the death of a wonderful animal friend and it reminded me that true, unconditional love can never die! (also, see "love is stronger than death," by "the the." same vein) Thanks!
  • David Walsh from Dublin, IrelandThis song has the shortest title of any song ever to get to number one!
  • Guy from Woodinville, WaThis is the most delightful, remarkable, lightest pieces of fluff a song could ever be.
  • Mark from Mchenry, IlThis song is a masterpiece. Such poetic lyrics and a beautiful melody. One of the great love songs of all time. And David Gates' vocals just add to the beauty of it all. This would probably have to be considered Bread's magnum opus.
  • Mark from London, EnglandA spoken-word version by Telly Savalas reached number one in the UK, whereas the Bread original failed to chart!
  • Ivan from Dallas, TxOne of my all time favorite. Never get tired of it. Listened to it hundreds of times. I even can play the guitar part exactly the same thanks to a guitar book.
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