American Top 40 PastBlast, 2/25/78: Yvonne Elliman, “If I Can’t Have You”

There are plenty of countdowns between 76 and 82 when I’m fairly certain I remember something I did on that day. This is one of them.

The Cincinnati Convention Center (now the Duke Energy Center) hosts a boat and RV event every winter. In 78, my cousin Carol, 9+ years my senior, offered to take Amy and me, along with her brother Alan, 2 years my junior, to the show.  Carol had recently gotten married and lived in a small house just a stone’s throw from the place on US 42 in Florence where she grew up. I had just turned 14, so I assume that Mom and Dad dropped us off and picked us up there. I don’t think Carol’s husband went with us.

Even though we lived only 10 miles apart, we didn’t get together with Alan overly often—being in different school districts probably had a role. He was always fine company, though, and I’m sure we had a good time together that evening. We weren’t, and still aren’t, boat or RV people, but I don’t doubt it was fun enough to see what was on offer for the upcoming summer. It wouldn’t surprise me if we played a game or two at Carol’s place upon our return. I have no idea now what my folks might have been doing that evening; at that point it was still a bit unusual not to be with one or both of them.

Carol’s marriage was apparently ill-fated from the start; they separated not too many months afterward. We had her over to our house in Walton for dinner a couple of times that summer. She soon decided to move west, to Owensboro, for a fresh start to pursue her career as a social worker. She met Bob in her work, married him, and they had a son, Naren. They eventually relocated to Ohio County. Carol did important, meaningful work with the mentally disabled for decades. She was a kind and caring person. She’s been greatly missed for over three-and-a-half years.

“If I Can’t Have You” was debuting at #40 on that cool February evening and would climb to #1 the second weekend of May. Despite all the Saturday Night Fever madness going on at that moment, this may well have been the first time I heard Yvonne Elliman’s biggest hit.

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