Album version 3:19 English/French 1997
‘Only If You Want To’ promo version 3:23 English 1997

Quotes about the song

Enya: "’Only If…’ was a positive message, and it was linked with the fact that this was a best-of album. The message was to take that step, do what you want to do now, even if it involves a risk factor. It’s a great feeling to do it, and I feel I’ve done it personally. I’ve been writing music regardless of the fact that there wasn’t anybody else doing this music. Sometimes that can be difficult, but that’s what the song is about."
Enya, Healer of the Soul, NY Times, 1997
enyabookofdays.com

Enya: "’Only If…’ is one of the up-tempo songs and again when I played Roma the melody she thought ‘Oh! This is very, very positive, this melody!’ and she told me this wonderful story…it was a quote, actually, from a poem by a French poet called Apollinaire. Just one little exerpt she had read to me which I’m going to relate to you. ‘Come to the edge, he said. They said, We’re afraid. Come to the edge, he said. They came, he pushed them, they flew’ and it was like I loved it. I love this kind of feeling of, you know, so many people who are so afraid to take that step and there is always a risk factor involved, but it’s so rewarding when you take the step and so the song ‘Only If…’ is really about that."
Only If, NPR interview, 1997
enyabookofdays.com

Trivia

Two slightly different versions of the song are available. A Japanese promo cd ‘The Best of Enya’ contains ‘Only If You Want To,’ an earlier version of ‘Only If…’ not including the French lyrics. The lyrics were inspired by Guillaume Apollinaire’s poem:

Venez jusqu’au bord.
Nous ne pouvons pas, nous avons peur.
Venez jusqu’au bord.
Nous ne pouvons pas, nous allons tomber.
Venez jusqu’au bord.
Et ils y sont allés.
Et il les a poussés.
Et ils se sont envolés.

English adaptation

‘Come to the edge,’ he said.
They said, ‘We are afraid.’
‘Come to the edge,’ he said.
They came.
He pushed them…and they flew.

Single

Only If cover

01 Only If…
02 Willows on the Water *
03 Oíche Chiúin

* previously unreleased track


Music Video

The music video for ‘Only If…’ was directed by Dan Nathan and shot at Mentmore Towers in Buckinghamshire, England.

Performances

Venue Date Details
Unknown TV Show (Japan) 1997 Lip-synced
Rosie O’Donnell Show (USA) Dec 12, 1997 Lip-synced
Late Show with David Letterman (USA) Dec 1997 Lip-synced
Royal Variety Performance (UK) Dec 1, 1997 Lip-synced


 

Lyrics

When there’s a shadow you reach for the sun..
When there is love then you look for the one..
..and for the promises there is the sky
..and for the heavens are those who can fly

If you really want to you can hear me say
only if you want to will you find a way.
If you really want to you can seize the day,
only if you want to will you fly away..

When there’s a journey you follow a star..
When there’s an ocean you sail from afar..
..and for the broken heart there is the sky
..and for tomorrow are those who can fly

If you really want to you can hear me say
only if you want to will you find a way.
If you really want to you can seize the day,
only if you want to will you fly away..

Ah! Je voudrais voler comme un oiseau d’aile.
Ah! Je voudrais voler comme un oiseau d’aile, d’aile…

Translation of the French part

Ah! I would like to fly like a bird of wing,
Ah! I would like to fly like a bird of wing, of wing..

lyrics by Roma Ryan
EMI Music Publishing Ltd, 1997