If I Could Have Her Tonight

Album: Neil Young (1969)

Songfacts®:

  • "If I Could Have her Tonight" is one of the most openly romantic, vulnerable songs on Neil Young's debut solo album. It's also one of the most unambiguous. This may be why so little has been written about the song previously - it doesn't seem to be concealing anything more than what's plainly visible on the surface.

    Whereas "The Loner" bears the mystery of who its subject is, "The Last Trip to Tulsa" is just plain weird, and "The Old Laughing Lady" bears that subtle eeriness that infuses Young's best work, "If I Could Have her Tonight" simply is what is.
  • The song finds Young longing for a woman's contact. Perhaps the most interesting thing, lyrically, is the degree of insecurity that's revealed:

    What if she came to me
    Would she be kind?


    and

    If she stayed with me
    Do you think that she'd like to do anything I would
    Or would she leave me?


    are almost embarrassingly needful.

    There's the question of who the song might be about, if it is indeed about any one actual person. Because it was never released as a single and because Neil Young as a whole didn't make a huge splash, the song's never been seriously discussed by critics or historians.

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