#1105: If Only by Jack Scott
Giovanni Dominico Scafone Jr. was born in 1936 in Windsor, Ontario, and spent some of his years growing up in the Detroit suburb of Hazel Park, Michigan. In 1954 he formed a band called the Southern Drifters. In 1957 he got a record deal with ABC-Paramount. He scored four Top Ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100 and two more in the Top 30 in the USA. In Vancouver Jack Scott was a teen idol with his good looks and classic rock ‘n roll. He enjoyed eight Top Ten hits on the Vancouver charts including “What In The World’s Come Over You” and his most successful hit in town, “Goodbye Baby” that peaked at #2 and spent 17 weeks on the CKWX charts in 1958. At the time, Scott had more US singles in the Billboard Hot 100 (19), in a shorter period of time (41 months), than any other recording artist – with the exception of The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino and Connie Francis. Scott charted twenty songs on the local record surveys in Vancouver between July 1958 and November 1962.
Jack Scott wrote all but one of his hits, that being “Burning Bridges”. One song would be a ballad, the next a rockabilly hit, a third a doo-wop tune, and then he’d release a pop-country song. Scott was versatile and his deep bass voice was always on the airwaves in that four year period along with Elvis Presley, Ricky Nelson and Roy Orbison who were also putting out a lot of singles at the time. His final hit after his very successful run on the pop charts was a song called “If Only”.
“In Only” is an honest song about someone who recognizes they’re romantically involved with someone who lies to them, is sly and makes unfair inferences. Nonetheless, the song is sung from the perspective of someone who is smitten even though they realize that the woman they are dating is going out with someone else. The singer is ready to make a commitment to go steady and be happy “just you and me.” But the drama of the other boyfriend of the girl of his dreams keeps the singer hoping they won’t get hurt. Anyone who has been in that kind of dicey situation, where one partner is dating other people while the other person has their focus solely on their one and only, knows it can spell trouble and a lot of cause to say to oneself, “if only.”
A fundamental problem for the guy in “If Only”, is that the person he is dating is good at telling lies. In a post on eHarmony, Monique A Honoman, writes that lying is “the ultimate dating don’t.” For most people, any sign of lying from the outset is a red flag. The dating relationship is likely to fall off the rails very quickly. She writes, “Some people rationalize their lies by telling themselves that they have to lie about this particular thing, in order for this person to spend more time with them and get to know the “true” them. Really? You think a lie will be less hurtful a year from now, or five years from now, when I have really opened myself up to you and trusted you only to find out you lied early in our relationship? Is that supposed to inspire confidence in everything else you have shared with me? At the end of the day, stop the lies. Be honest. Be truthful. Be you. If the truth is so offensive to your date, then clearly you aren’t meant to be together.” However, the guy in “If Only”, has been wooed by his date and now he is going steady. He’s focused on her dreamy eyes, even though he knows he’s getting hurt. At some point this character will figure out what really matters to him. Or not.
Jack Scott has been inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. He continues to tour into his 81st year and lives in suburban Detroit.
January 13, 2017
For more song reviews visit the Countdown.