If You Were Here Tonight

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"If You Were Here Tonight"
Single by Alexander O'Neal
from the album Alexander O'Neal
Released 1985
Label Tabu
Writer(s) Monte Moir
Producer(s) Monte Moir
Alexander O'Neal singles chronology
"If You Were Here Tonight"
"A Broken Heart Can Mend"
Alexander O'Neal track listing
A Broken Heart Can Mend
"If You Were Here Tonight"
"Do You Wanna Like I Do"

"If You Were Here Tonight" is a song written by Monte Moir and recorded by American recording artist Alexander O'Neal. It is the second single from the singer's self-titled debut solo album, Alexander O'Neal (1985). The song is notable for its non-rhyming lyrics. Following the moderately successful chart performances of the Alexander O'Neal single "Innocent", "If You Were Here Tonight" was released as the album's second single.

"If You Were Here Tonight" is a melancholy ballad about the break-up of a relationship. "If You Were Here Tonight" is one of three songs written by Monte Moir from the album, but it is the only one to be released as a single.


It was O'Neal's first successful hit in the United Kingdom, reaching #13 in the UK Singles Chart in March 1986 after originally peaking at #81 in August 1985 and also his second R&B hit, reaching #17 in the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. It was also one of his only two hits to chart in the Republic of Ireland (reaching No. 20).

Track listing[edit]

  • 12" Maxi (TBUA 12.6391, A 12.6391)
  1. "If You Were Here Tonight" - 6:08
  2. "What's Missing" - 5:42
  3. "If You Were Here Tonight (Soft Version)" - 5:06
  • 12" Single (TA 6391)
  1. "If You Were Here Tonight" - 6:08
  2. "Innocent (Instrumental)" - 9:54
  3. "If You Were Here Tonight (Soft Version)" - 5:06
  • 7" Single (A 6391)
  1. "If You Were Here Tonight (Remix)" - 3:40
  2. "If You Were Here Tonight (Soft Version)" - 5:06

Sales chart performance[edit]

Peak positions[edit]

Chart (1985) Position
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs[1] 62
UK Singles Chart[2] 13
Irish Singles Chart[3] 20
Recorded Music NZ[4] 42

Cover versions[edit]

  • Jamaican reggae singer Wayne Wonder covered the song in 1990, retitled "If You Were Here", taken from his self-titled debut album released the same year.
  • English singer Matt Goss, formerly of the band Bros, released his version as a single in 1996.
  • Jamaican reggae singer Tony Curtis recorded a cover of the song in 1998, which is included on the Sail Away album.
  • British R&B singer Tony Momrelle also covered the song in 1998, with UK garage mixes by Daryl B & M. Yardley proving to be popular the following year.
  • English singer Shayne Ward covered the song in 2015 which is included on the Deluxe Edition of the album, Closer.


  • The song's instrumental was sampled as the basis for the highly popular dancehall beat called the Sail Away Riddim in 1998. This was done by producing an uptempo dancehall beat woven around the airy keyboard riff from "If You Were Here Tonight". The Sail Away riddim was used to produce a 12-track "one-rhythm" album of songs using the same instrumental.[5] Artists featured on the Sail Away album included Beenie Man, Mr. Vegas, Chico, Frisco Kid, Sean Paul, Richie Stephens, T.O.K., Nitty Kutchie, Round Head, Tony Curtis, Copper Cat, and Demo Delgado.
  • The song was sampled by John Forté on the song "Move On (I'm Leavin')" from the soundtrack to the 1997 motion picture Sprung
  • It was sampled by Ras Kass on the song "It Is What It Is" from his 1998 album Rasassination.
  • American rapper Freddie Gibbs sampled the song in 2013 for his song, "The Color Purple".
  • Oakland-based rapper Lil B sampled the song for his song "Thugs Pain (Remix)" off of the mixtape 100% Gutta.
  • Barbadian singer Rihanna sampled the song in her 2016 song "Work", which reached number one in the United States.


External links[edit]