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If I Can't Have You

This song I first painted as part of my experimental phase for this collection back in the UK lockdown of Summer 2020.

Fashion illustration by Bette Love of song If I can't have you by Yvonne Elliman from Saturday Night Fever
Experimental piece of 'If I can't have you'

I decided this time round to take out the shapes in the background out and move away from the abstract form of painting music, and instead to paint the images and colours I see in my head.

This song is from the movie Saturday Night Fever with John Travolta and is based in New York so it’s hard for me to listen to this without seeing images from my visits to New York.

For some reason I associate New York with the colours blue and silver, probably because on all my visits even during wintertime, the sky there has been a brilliant blue, and the Skyscrapers where just sparkling in the sunshine. So naturally for me they were the first colours I reached for, and rather than creating what I previously had I added the Chrysler building in the background and to add to the New York in the 70’s feel I looked to Fashion Designer to the stars of Studio 54 ‘ Halston’. I’ve also given my character Miri a sad face in this to show the unrequited love she feels, coz if she can’t have ‘him’ she don’t want nobody baby. A feeling we’ve all felt at some point, but who is the ‘him’ I’m referring too? One of my Disco heart throbs, maybe?

Fashion illustration by Bette Love of song If I can't have you from the Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack
If I can't have you new version

I expect to paint this song again in the future as it really does mean a lot to me! And here’s why.

I remember vividly being taken to see the PG version of Saturday Night Fever at the cinema, I was only 3 but felt like a grown up as my elder sisters where all teenagers and had all seen the film and were crazy about John Travolta, so I wanted to be part of the gang. I was so desperate to go to the disco, yet by the time I was old enough to, disco’s had become clubs and as I was in my retro 70’s glam rock phase in the early 90’s clubbing and club music really didn’t do it for me, although there was a good club night on a Friday that did alternative music.

So as the time passed I forgot about this movie and this song, until a friend of mine from my gig days text me (it was the 90s) and asked me who sang If I can’t have you. I knew the answer immediately even though I hadn’t heard it in years. So that night after work, I headed straight to HMV at the top of Oxford Street and seeked out the sound track and dvd of the film. That weekend I feel back in love with Saturday Night Fever, and my big disco phase began (it still hasn’t left).

As part of my disco crush, I started seeking similar people out on My Space (yes it was that long ago) and I plucked up the courage to connect on there with my first pop star crush from when I was 4. Chatting with him online rekindled my old crush, and this song became prevalent, because at that time it really expressed how I felt about him. I still crush over him today, but in a more nostalgic kind of way. But best part of it all is I can now call him my friend!

Bette Love with Felipe Rose original member of Village People. Who is now a Solo Artist, Actor and Disco Historian
Me with Felipe Rose of Village People

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