Tonic – ”If You Could Only See” Lyrics Meaning

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Written By Brendan Briggs

Brendan is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer. In 2022, he released his first album "Dive" under the name "Arctotherium".

“If You Could Only See” is a tragic song that tells the story of a man who is trying to explain his romantic relationship to a skeptical observer. The lyrics focus on how the narrator believes his listener to be biased against his feelings and emphasize how totally in love the narrator feels with his woman. The track also manages to touch on how willing we sometimes are to suffer ridicule for our love.

Emerson Hart wrote this song and its lyrics, and he did it based on personal experience. At a young age, he fell for a woman that his parents did not approve of. As a result, they effectively disowned him. This song was an articulation of his feelings toward the woman and his parents. The relationship did not work out, but it inspired the song.

In this article, we’ll perform an analysis of these raw lyrics to decipher their intended meaning. We’ll also take a look at the songwriting story and the universal themes that give this song its staying power. Without further ado, let’s get started!

“If You Could Only See” Lyrics Meaning

The lyrics begin immediately with a chorus. In it, Hart tries to explain to an unnamed skeptic that his romance is legitimate and worthwhile. He insists that if they “could only see” how his woman loves him, they would understand his devotion. If they could see how beautiful she is through his eyes, Hart argues, they would know the relationship is meant to be.

In the first verse, Hart takes a more critical tone toward his listener. He knows they have “reasons,” “lies,” and “manipulations” to back up their criticism of his relationship. However, he believes they do this out of spite and accuses them of trying to cut him “down to size.”

In the pre-chorus, it is my opinion that the perspective shifts from Hart to his critic. They are warning him that he thinks he knows things he does not. His certainty, they say, is misplaced, even though he gives his love to the woman in question.

In verse two, Hart states his willingness to put up with ridicule for the sake of his feelings. He knows it’s the “road less traveled” to do so, but is determined anyway. He’s ready to “take a little dirt” to preserve his romance, even if that takes the form of criticism from his listener. In real life, this was serious for Hart, who was reportedly disowned by his parents due to his romantic choices.

In the second pre-chorus, the perspective shifts yet again. This time, the warning is made even clearer. The critic tells Hart that he’s reaching for “something that’s just not there.” They urge Hart to wait on giving his love until “you [Hart] can.” Basically, they want him to find someone more suitable down the line.

Since the song ends with a chorus, it’s safe to say that Hart was not persuaded. This was the case in real life, and Hart had to learn the hard way that his parents were right. Nonetheless, the song the experience inspired has serious power.

In summary, “If You Could Only See” tells two halves of a charged conversation about Hart’s future and love life. The strength of this track’s emotional impact is a big contributor to its success, and this impact comes directly from Hart’s life.

The Story Behind “If You Could Only See”

Emerson Hart is the frontman of Tonic, the lyricist behind “If You Could Only See,” and the sole songwriter for the track’s non-lyrical elements. His degree of control over the track reflects not only talent, but also the personal nature of the track’s message.

This is because the song is based on personal experience. As covered in the article’s previous sections, Hart wrote the song about a time when he fell in love with a woman his parents did not approve of. They disowned him for about three years, and the relationship did not end up working out.

It gets more specific than that, however. According to Hart, he specifically remembers telling his mother that if she could only see the way his love interest loved him, she would change her mind. After this conversation, Hart immediately began writing. “In a matter of minutes,” the song was written due to a flash of inspiration.

The result can only be considered a success, commercially and critically. “If You Could Only See” reached a position of #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay chart and has received a good amount of praise from critics. This is definitely the song that launched Tonic into stardom, and Hart considers the tune a blessing.

The next time you play this instant classic, let these pieces of music history make it even more special!