The morning wakes, the dawning breaks and you’re heartbroken. Oh if she were here. But she’s not here nor can your falling tears bring her back. The morning calls, rise off your pillow. Oh if she were here this morning dawning yawning, and if she were here today. Oh if she were here exciting and if she were here inviting with her hands for you, her lips for you, her eyes for you. If she were here.
In yesterdays, happier days you’d spend an evening reading magazines, like ocean shells they roar and tell you where Truth is found. Now on your knee softly she’s leaning. One thought fills your head. The leisure and the pleasure now have all night to begin. Oh if she were here to drink with you. If she were here to think of you. If she were here to laugh for you, enough for you if she were here.
Some distant day you’ll meet again and she’ll be smiling on some other’s arm who very well is waking now with her by his side. Let your head fall back on your pillow. Gaze up at the door she closed upon your vision – it will open nevermore. For she’s only here in dreams for you and life’s not what it seemed for you. You try somehow forgetting now those happy hours when she was here.
Notes on: If she were here (1971)
I was about 22. I’d been deep into classical song but realised that I had to get out of that and try to write in a more contemporary way, but incorporating what I’d learned from classical song. I even got a complete change of scenery, my girlfriend and I going to live in Brisbane. I was very afraid that I might not be able to achieve anything much. My heroes at the time were Paul Simon, Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson, the great melodists, and I was asking myself, how can I aspire to them? Then I wrote a song called Miserere, which was a mish-mash of styles but genuinely novel (I’ll probably put it out on another album). It gave me a lot of hope.
This was the second song I wrote in this new style, which wasn’t really a style at all yet, just meandering melodic strands, but this one cohered beautifully. It’s in AB form (melody then counter-melody) but I made the counter-melody into a cello part and it worked. That stuff basically comes from Robert Schumann, who was criticised in his time for his “tails” as they called them, but who I think has been proven correct. I had She’s Leaving Home by The Beatles and When Love Is Gone by David Ackles in my mind when I was writing the lyric, and it shows. I’ve also never quite been comfortable with using the word “heart-broken” but clearly it’s the right term. Just some unfortunate residual need to appear hip on my part I think.
I separated from my girlfriend of that time, Anne, at around the time I was writing it, so it’s dedicated to her really. I have three songs that were written about the loves of my life, not deliberately, but looking back I can see how each was connected. This song definitely caught my fears about the impending end of my relationship with Anne; the writing was on the wall. And it hurt like hell!