Likely or Possible

David Gates, the keyboardist for Bread wrote the song ‘IF’ and he said that it was the best song that he ever wrote.  It was released on Bread’s 1971 third studio album Manna and the single charted #4 in the US.  This was the shortest song title to make the Top Ten until 1993, when Janet Jackson also charted #4 with a different song that had the same title.  There was another whole different song called ‘IF’ by The Paragons that peaked at #82 back in 1961.  This is a tender, romantic ballad where the guy thinks about the likelihood, or possibility of a love lost.  Gates said that he was able to write this song one night at the dining room table, after his kids and his wife went to bed.  It only took him about an hour and a half, and he had an extra verse left over.  The actor Telly Savalas did a non-singing cover version of this song that made it to #1 on the UK charts.

A single image may be able to explain things more clearly or succinctly than trying to say it with words, thus effectively being able to replace a large amount of descriptive text.  The singer has trouble painting the person that he loves, because this painting would not be able to show the special love that he has for her.  The song makes a reference to Helen of Troy, whose face actually launched a thousand ships, when the Trojan War was mounted on her behalf.  He laments about having nobody in his life but her, and it seems like he had a hard life, because she is the only one left in it.  He thinks about his death, but he knows that she will be there for him.

Many people say that this song is one of the most romantic songs ever and it is very lovely, but being an engineer, I see this as a bunch of logical if statements, used to evaluate expressions that are determined to be true.  This song probably has nothing to do with Einstein’s Quantum Entanglement theory where he wonders about particles being in two separate places at the same time, but the guy in this song says if that were possible, he would choose to be with her.  The lyrics get deep when he wonders about if the Earth would slowly stop spinning, and that probably wouldn’t be good for anyone, as the oceans would move toward the poles, and the oceans surrounding the equator would completely dry up, splitting the Earth’s oceans into two large polar oceans separated by dry land, and half the world would be underwater.  He goes even deeper thinking about the death of universe after the Earth is through.  He doesn’t actually mention the Big Chill or Big Freeze, but he does mention the stars extinguishing one by one.  He feels that if this happens that they can fly away together.  This guy never wants to leave his romantic partner, and he wants to spend his last precious moments together with her.

If a picture paints a thousand words,
Then why can’t I paint you?
The words will never show the you I’ve come to know.
If a face could launch a thousand ships,
Then where am I to go?
There’s no one home but you,
You’re all that’s left me too.
And when my love for life is running dry,
You come and pour yourself on me.

If a man could be two places at one time,
I’d be with you.
Tomorrow and today, beside you all the way.
If the world should stop revolving spinning slowly down to die,
I’d spend the end with you.
And when the world was through,
Then one by one the stars would all go out,
Then you and I would simply fly away

Written for Song Lyric Sunday where the theme is Appearance, Image, Likeness, Object, Picture, Photograph.

13 thoughts on “Likely or Possible

      1. Yes she got me into them before The Monkees or Beatles…but they stuck with me. Gates is a good songwriter.

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