If Only

demo version . demo reprise . broadway version . broadway reprise . bbc 2008 celebration

If Only: Demo Version

A thing I've long thought was unconventional is that although The Little Mermaid is a love story, it does not have a love song. Most of Disney's other features that are essentially a love story have a love duet (eg. Cinderella's "So This is Love") or at least a love theme (eg. Beauty and the Beast's title song). The closest thing The Little Mermaid had to a love song was "Kiss the Girl", which isn't really. The Broadway demo album has this track, "If Only", which is closer to a love song, but still not quite there.

Thanks to Mariah, Rebecca and Elly for helping with these lyrics!

(printable version)

Eric:
You feeling better now? You're sure? You're not going to faint on me again are you? Maybe you have no idea what I'm talking about.

Ariel:
If only you could know
The things I long to say

Eric:
There's a lot more to you than meets the eye, isn't there?

Ariel:
If only I could tell you
What I wish I could convey

Eric:
You know how you meet someone and everything changes just like that?

Ariel:
It's in my every glance
My heart's an open book

Eric:
Suddenly the world comes together. You know what you've been missing all your life.

Ariel:
You'd see it all at once
If only you would look

Eric:
That's happened to me. You see, I met this girl and...her voice was...I'm sorry. I shouldn't be bothering you with all this. I really enjoyed our talk. Sleep well.

Ariel:
If only you could glimpse
The feeling that I feel
If only you would notice
What I'm dying to reveal

The dreams I can't declare
The needs I can't deny
You'd understand them all
If only you would try

All my secrets, you would learn them
All my longings, you'd return them
All my shackles, they'd be broken
Not a word would need be spoken

Eric:
What is it about her that's so wonderfully, impossibly familiar?
Why do I feel dizzy in a way I've only felt but once before?
How come when she looks at me it seems like time stops moving?
Almost like the way it did that day upon the shore?
But that voice

Ariel:
If only it were true
If only for a while

Eric:
But that voice

Ariel:
If only you would notice
How I ache behind my smile

Eric:
Where's that voice?

Ariel:
I guess you never will
I guess it doesn't show
But if I never find a way
To tell you so
Oh, what I would give
If only you could know

Eric:
Memories fade
Strange how they blur
But when she calls to me
I'll know it's her

Ariel:
If only

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If Only: Demo Reprise

This reprise of "If Only" in the Broadway demo album is sung by Sebastian and as about Ariel, though from the lyrics, she may not be directly listening. Sebastian cares a lot for Ariel, and here he shows a little of just how much.

Thanks to Elly for helping with these lyrics!

(printable version)

If only I knew how
I'd make him see the light
If only it were up to me
This all would turn out right
And if I only could
I'd tell you what I'd do
I'd simply wave me claw
And make your dreams come true


Listen to me. What a soft shell I'm turning into.

And wouldn't that surprise you
If you only knew

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If Only: Broadway Version

For the Broadway show, this melancholy song of hope and longing brings together four characters and their respective points-of-view to the love story that is the core of The Little Mermaid. There's been quite a bit of praise for this song, which starts out as an Ariel solo but then brings in Eric, Sebastian and Triton into a quartet, with Eric and Triton singing to the tune of "Her Voice". It's a love song, but not the typical Disney kind.

(printable version)

Ariel:
If only you could know the things I long to say
If only I could tell you what I wish I could convey
It's in my every glance, my heart's an open book
You'd see it all at once if only you would look

If only you could glimpse the feeling that I feel
If only you would notice what I'm dying to reveal
The dreams I can't declare, the needs I can't deny
You'd understand them all if only you would try

All my secrets, you would learn them
All my longings, you'd return them
Then the silence would be broken
Not a word would need be spoken

Eric:
What is it about her that's so wonderfully, impossibly familiar?
Why do I feel dizzy in a way I've only felt but once before
How come when she looks at me it seems like time stops moving
Almost like the way it did that day upon the shore
But that voice

Ariel:
If only it were true, if only for a while

Eric:
Oh, that voice

Ariel:
If only you would notice how I ache behind my smile

Eric:
Where's that voice?

Ariel:
I guess you never will, I guess it doesn't show
But if I never find a way to tell you so
Oh, what I would give if only you could know

Sebastian:
Bless you, child. Tomorrow the prince will have his pick of any princess in the land. How can a little mermaid compete with that?
If only I knew how, I'd make him see the light
If only it were up to me this all would turn out right
And if I only could, I'd tell ya what I'd do
I'd simply wave me claw and make ya dreams come true
And wouldn't that surprise ya if ya only knew

Triton:
How could she just suddenly, completely disappear into thin water?
It's been two whole days and I don't know where she has gone

Eric:
Oh that voice
Triton:
If only you'd come home
Sebastian:
If only I could help
Eric:
Where's that voice?
Ariel:
If only there were time
I know we'd kiss at last
Eric:
That voice
Triton:
If only you'd come back
I'll change my ways

Sebastian:
Just for one more day for that kiss to come

Ariel:
But time keeps racing forward
And our moment's almost passed
Triton:
I'll try to understand
Ariel:
It has to happen now
Sebastian:
I'd give my life up to make it happen
Triton:
I'll keep my temper low
I should have started listening to you long ago
Eric:
How I wish that girl could have been this one
Ariel:
It's only one more day until I have to go

Eric:
If only

All:
Oh what I would give if only you could know

Eric:
And at the ball
What will occur?
Maybe I'll find that voice
But I'll lose her

Ariel:
If only

Sebastian:
If only

Triton:
If only

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If Only: Broadway Reprise

The conflict between father and daughters gets its closure here in the Broadway show's "If Only" reprise, where both sides finally understanding each other. It's always good to remember that even the best happy endings need sacrifice somewhere or the other.

(printable version)

Ariel:
I've caused you so much trouble. Can you ever forgive me?

Triton:
Why, I've never been prouder. Somehow, in the blink of an eye when my back was turned, you grew up.

If only you could stay
And never say goodbye
If only I could make time stop
Believe me, I would try

But fathers have to learn
That daughters have to grow
And if you truly love them
You must let them go

And oh, I love you
If only you could know


You love him very much, don't you? You belong to his world now.

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If Only: 2008 BBC Concert

For the 2008 "BBC Radio 2 Celebrates the Music of Disney" concert, Kerry Butler of the demo recording gets to sing as Ariel again, and here she is accompanied by Drew Sarich as Eric, Titus Burgess as Sebastian and Adam Pascal as King Triton. The lyrics are near identical to the Broadway version, but as happens in concerts (as opposed to studio recordings) there's raw emotion injected into the performance, which I dig.

(printable version)

Ariel:
If only you could know the things I long to say
If only I could tell you what I wish I could convey
It's in my every glance, my heart's an open book
You'd see it all at once if only you would look

If only you could glimpse the feeling that I feel
If only you would notice what I'm dying to reveal
The dreams I can't declare, the needs I can't deny
You'd understand them all if only you would try

All my secrets, you would learn them
All my longings, you'd return them
Then the silence would be broken
Not a word would need be spoken

Eric:
What is it about her that's so wonderfully, impossibly familiar?
Why do I feel dizzy in a way I've only felt but once before
How come when she looks at me it seems like time stops moving
Almost like the way it did that day upon the shore
But that voice

Ariel:
If only it were true, if only for a while

Eric:
Oh, that voice

Ariel:
If only you would notice how I ache behind my smile

Eric:
Where's that voice?

Ariel:
I guess you never will, I guess it doesn't show
But if I never find a way to tell you so
Oh, what I would give if only you could know

Sebastian:
Bless you, child. Tomorrow the prince will have his pick of any princess in the land. How can a little mermaid compete with that?
If only I knew how, I'd make him see the light
If only it were up to me this all would turn out right
And if I only could, I'd tell ya what I'd do
I'd simply wave me claw and make ya dreams come true
And wouldn't that surprise ya if ya only knew

Triton:
How could she just suddenly, completely disappear into thin water?
It's been two whole days and I don't know where she has gone

Eric:
Oh that voice
Triton:
If only you'd come home
Sebastian:
If only I could help
Eric:
Where's that voice?
Ariel:
If only there were time
I know we'd kiss at last
Eric:
That voice
Triton:
If only you'd come back
I'll change my ways

Sebastian:
Just for one more day for that kiss to come

Ariel:
But time keeps racing on
And our moment's almost passed
Triton:
I'll try to understand
Ariel:
It has to happen now
Sebastian:
I'd give my life up to make it happen
Triton:
I'll keep my temper low
I should have started listening to you long ago
Eric:
How I wish this girl could have been this one
Ariel:
It's only one more day until I have to go

Eric:
If only

All:
Oh what I would give if only you could know

Eric:
And at the ball
What will occur?
Maybe I'll find that voice
But I'll lose her

Ariel:
If only

Sebastian:
If only

Triton:
If only

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