If You Leave

This song, “If You Leave” (1986), by the English electronic band OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark), is one of my favorite New Wave songs of the 1980s. It’s also one of my favorite synth-pop songs. Also, note the saxophone, an instrument featured in my 1980s songs, which you don’t see in most songs today. It was recorded for the soundtrack to the iconic 1980s film “Pretty in Pink”, which is played prominently during the final scene.

“We’ve always had time on our side / Now it’s fading fast” – These lyrics are especially poignant and meaningful to me. For me, this song is about moving on from childhood to adolescence. As an adult, looking back, I mourn the joyful and carefree days of my childhood, when every day held excitement and adventure. And learning so much all the time. I long to return to those days. It’s was also the time when my family was still together before my parents divorced. So this song evokes a bit of melancholy in me.

The end of the film Pretty in Pink, set in a high school prom, was originally meant to feature the OMD song “Goddess of Love” (which the band released on The Pacific Age later in 1986.) However, director John Hughes decided to change the ending to Pretty in Pink after poor test audience reactions and felt that the new ending required a song with different lyrical content. Hughes asked OMD for a new song to match the feel of the ending, and also specified that it should be written at a tempo of 120 BPM, to match the speed of “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”, which the actors in the scene had danced to during filming. This request came two days before OMD was due to begin a tour, and as a result “If You Leave” was written and recorded in under 24 hours.

Lyrically the band has stated that the song is about “The end of high school… the ending of your childhood”, elaborating that they were trying to capture “this fear of what comes next”. Singer Andy McCluskey later noted that an editing error meant the dancing appears out of sync despite the matched tempo.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/If_You_Leave_(song)

This was featured in the final scene of the John Hughes-directed movie Pretty in Pink, and OMD wrote it specifically for the film. In our interview with Andy McCluskey of OMD, he explained: “We were delighted to be asked by John, and went to the set where Molly and John Cryer were shooting. Unfortunately, the original song that we wrote didn’t fit after they changed the whole ending (the original ending had Molly Ringwald’s character choosing Duckie, who was played by Cryer, instead of Andrew McCarthy’s Blane). We had 2 days to write a new track at Larabee Studios in L.A. We worked until 4 a.m. writing a rough version and sent a motorbike to Paramount. John heard it, liked it, and our manager phoned us at 8 a.m. and told us to go back in and mix it. That’s how ‘If You Leave’ Happened! The song had to be 120 BPM cos that’s the tempo of ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me),’ which is the track they actually shot the prom scene to. Unfortunately, the editor obviously had no sense of rhythm because they are all dancing out of time in the final film. It was cool to be in the film for so long and fantastic to go on the red carpet at the Chinese theater at the premier.”

https://www.songfacts.com/facts/omd/if-you-leave

Personnel

Lyrics

If you leave, don’t leave now
Please don’t take my heart away
Promise me, just one more night
Then we’ll go our separate ways
We’ve always had time on our side
Now it’s fading fast
Every second, every moment
We’ve gotta make it last

I touch you once, I touch you twice
I won’t let go at any price
I need you now like I need you then
You always said we’d still be friends someday

If you leave I won’t cry
I won’t waste one single day
But if you leave don’t look back
I’ll be running the other way
Seven years went under the bridge
Like time was standing still
Heaven knows what happens now
You’ve gotta say you will

I’ll touch you once, I’ll touch you twice
I won’t let go at any price
I need you now like I need you then
You always said we’d meet again

I touch you once, I touch you twice
I won’t let go at any price
I need you now like I need you then
You always said we’d still be friends

I touch you once, I touch you twice
I won’t let go at any price
I need you now like I need you then
You always said we’d meet again someday

If you leave
If you leave
If you leave
Don’t look back
Don’t look back

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