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Without You by Nilsson

Album: Nilsson SchmilssonReleased: 1972Charted:
1
1
  • This was originally recorded by Badfinger in 1970, and appeared on their second album, No Dice. Nilsson wrote most of the songs he recorded, and many listeners assumed that this gut-wrenching ballad was also one of his compositions.
  • Badfinger members Peter Ham and Tom Evans wrote this. Ham had written a song called "Is This Love?," but wasn't happy with the chorus. Evans came up with the "I cant' live if living is without you" chorus, but had no verses for it, so they put the 2 songs together as one. (thanks, Tom - Mishawaka, IN)
  • Nilsson first came across this song at a Laurel Canyon party in 1971 and thought it was a Beatles song. Badfinger was signed to Apple Records, The Beatles' label. The story did not end well for Badfinger: Both Ham and Evans became despondent when they encountered various legal difficulties and committed suicide. Ham hanged himself in 1975 and Evans did the same in 1983.
  • Nilsson's version added an orchestra and gave the song a dramatic production. When Nilsson recorded it, he initially played the song slow and dark, accompanied only by piano. Producer Richard Perry recalled to Mojo magazine April 2008 that he had to persuade an unwilling Nilsson to record it as a big ballad: "I had to force him to take a shot with the rhythm section. Even while we were doing it, he'd be saying to the musicians, 'This song's awful.'"
  • Mariah Carey's version debuted at #1 in the UK in 1994 and hit #3 in the US. Nilsson died of heart failure on January 15, 1994 - the same day Carey's version was released in the US. Later in 1994, Nilsson's version was reissued to take advantage of the renewed interest.
  • This won the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal in 1973.
  • The soft rock group Air Supply did a popular cover of this song in 1991.
  • January 15th is a date with some interesting coincidences where Nilsson's version of this song is concerned. He died on January 15, 1994, the same day Mariah Carey's version was released, which is also 22 years to the day after his interpretation of "Without You" hit #1 on the US charts. (thanks, renee - bloomington, MN)
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Comments: 47

I H a t e Mariah Carey because people think she sung that song.Alexis - Riverside, Ca
Badfinger's story should serve as a cautionary tale to anyone thinking of entering the music business. The guy who was supposed to look after their finances used their money to finance his lavish lifestyle.Dana - Woodbury, Mn
I had watched the documentary on him a week ago. He was almost like a precursor to the late Amy Winehouse (God rest her soul): highly talented, yet also self-destructive, but also tried to turn things around at the time of his death.Dana - Woodbury, Mn
This is by far the best version, hands down. Too bad Harry lost his voice drinking and screaming with John Lennon.John - Philadelphia, Pa
I was very disappointed that on tonight's American Idol, Mariah Carey gave a shout-out to Harry for writing this song. I think it's a shame when people cover others' songs and don't even know who wrote and originally recorded them. That being said, Harry's version will always be my favorite, I think he was a brilliant writer and performer!Leta - York Springs, Pa
I was visiting lyrics depot and it said written by Harry Nilsson! I am SO sick of this crap. The song also was NOT written by "Badfinger." It was written by the late Pete Ham and Tom Evans of the group Badfinger! THAT is a fact. ONLY in my opinion...I like the Badfinger version slightly more than Harry's and...sorry but I cannot stand the Pariah Carey version but then her voice always sounds like she's got her foot stuck in a bear trap! Just my opinion though...Mark - Colorado Springs, Co
Nilsson stole the song from a movie 1945- Brief encounterMark - Springfield, Mo
The wolf is Harry's soul animalJoe - Grants Pass, Or
Mr. Nilsson's vocals on this are just devastating.
A timeless song about loss of a loved one, be it a breakup or (more poignant still because of the finality) death of a spouse.
Oldpink - New Castle, In
There are a number of Songs that gives one chills, as they hear it
This one by Mariah and Nelsson are in that catagory.
Brady - Niagara Falls, Ny
The haunting piano work in this song is by none other than Gary Wright of "Dream Weaver" fame.David - Birmingham, Al
Sorry... forgot. You can also compare Badfinger's and Harry's versions of the songs (along with rare demos and foreign language versions of "Without You."
http://fortheloveofharry.blogspot.com/2007/11/without-you-19701971.html
Jam - Miami, Fl
Actually, Harry WAS freaked out by the deaths of Moon and Cass in his flat. Pete Townshend purposely purchased the flat from Harry so he wouldn't have to deal with the place any longer.

And to Pete in Australia. It's not true that Harry never sang "live." In fact he performed two live (in the studio) shows for the BBC in 1971 and 1973 and appeared on American telelvision singing on numerous occasions. It's true he never "toured," but you can see some of his live performances over at For The Love of Harry (http://fortheloveofharry.blogspot.com/) and also hear a lot of rarities, too.
Jam - Miami, Fl
Bad Finger's version is the best. When I listen to it now it is almost haunting. Bad Finger was a great band. it is so unfortunate that they are best known for a song they didn't even write.Dawn - Worcester, Ma
This is a superb song, song superbly, by a superb singer. Harry Nilson was, in my opinion, the man with the perfect voice.
Sadly, it's the only song which really displays Nilson's full ability.
Chris - Geelong, Australia
mariah carey's version of this song is the most successful song of carey worldwide.Elmer - Honolulu, Hi
The movie with Ringo Starr was "Son of Dracula", 1974.James - Wichita, Ks
It was one evening Harry was playing cards with some friends listening to some records when he heard badfinger's version.Hour or so went by and he had to find out what that certain song was.Rest was history.
john,jasper alberta Can.
John - Jasper, Canada
Sadly, Mama Cass and Keith Moon each died in Harry Nilsson's flat in London. It'd be interesting to find out if he eventually sold the place. But since he hung onto it after Mama passed away, it's safe to assume he wasn't superstitious. Without You, indeed.Steve - Birmingham, Al
One of the writers was due to go out with his girlfriend when the other called round to say he had a good idea for a song and they they should go straight away and work on it. The girlfriend gave the go-ahead though she was secretly dissapointed at not getting to go out for the evening. It didn't go completely unnoticed and from this incident the lyric "you always smile but in your eye your sorrow shows" was born.Norman - Londonderry, Ireland
Nilsson was a great songwriter - not just his own stuff, but he also wrote "One," popularized by Three Dog Night on their 1969 self-titled debut album. While he didn't write this song, his version is an amazing and timeless piece of work. He recorded it about 35 years ago and when it's on the radio, it still sounds so fresh, powerful, original and beautiful.David - Youngstown, Oh
I agree with Dee. This is a most beautiful song. No one can sing it like Harry, try as they might. =^^=Donna - Banning, Ca
The first time I heard this song was when I was in high school and when I heard it instantly fail in love with it. I don't know why but every time I hear the song it brings back a lot of memories. In fact I had to sing as a solo in a high school concert. And When I was singing it it was bringing tears to my eyes. And to a lot of people eyes that was in the audiences eyes also. Like I said earlier I dearly love this song in ways that I can't explain.

grandmagranny67301@yahoo.com better known as Connie Pouncil June 13,2006
Connie - Independence, Ks
"Heart" does a pretty strait ahead version of this as a filler piece in the contract-fulfilling "Magazine" album.Rob - Vancouver, Canada
yeah, that's really very true what some of you say... Harry Nilsson's is good, but Badfinger's version has more of the actual emotion in it... There's something very special with the way they've done it... the slow guitar solos give it and that earnestness and sadness in their voices... it's truly very specialMarkus - Stockholm, Sweden
The idea that the song brings bad luck has just made me realise I was talking about this song with my dad the day before he died.Robert - Lancasire, England
This is a real beautiful lovesong and nobody can sing it as good as Harry Nilsson. The next time you here it, Pete from Australia, you have to listen very good and maybe you're gonna like it; anyway I just love it.Teresa - Mechelen, Belgium
Nilsons version is a bit stale??????????

ya gotta be kidding ...... maybe you had the record player speed set at 33 instead of 45?????
Pete - Nowra, Australia
I agree, Harry Nilsson was a very talentful singer, I don't think another artist could sing this song better than he; Harry Nilsson's version is realy very beautiful and I'm always very touched when I hear him singing this song.Teresa - Mechelen, Belgium
Without You was made for Harry to sing. No other artist comes close to Harry's version. This is the man that the Beatles considered their favorite artist. He also had a three and a half octive range. One of the most underated singer/songwriters of all times. I am also a badfinger fan, but not the way the recorded "Without You". Harry's brother, Gary Nilsson. Palatka Fl.Gary - Palatka, Fl
The Nilsson version was featured in the movie "Rules of Attraction" in the suicide in the bathtub scene. It's bloody as hell, and it'll make you remember the song foreverDan - Drexel Hill, Pa
This song is a classic sad love song. Harry's version is very emotional - apparently he cried after recording it. The song is also seen by many as one that brings bad luck for anyone who performs it. Both writers of the song hanged themselves. Harry became an alchoholic and eventually died. Carey performed it and straight after her career faltered and she had many personal problems. perhaps one to stay away from...Robbie - Bristol, England, United States
Peter Ham promised his girl friend to take her to a party, but Tom Ham told him that he needs help in the studio. Peter decided to help his bandmember. His girlfriend left him and he wrote a part of without you. Finally Tom composed the chorus.Falko - Berlin, Germany
I only know the version of Harry Nilsson, I just love it. "Everybody's talking", the song from the film "Midnight Cowboy", is great too.
Harry Nilsson had the opportunity working with a great talent like Phil Spector which was the start of his successful career. A great singer with a lot of talent, I miss him very much.
Teresa - Mechelen, Belgium
Badfinger's version is loads better. It has much more emotion, what i would consider a more earthy and interesting voice, and more interesting lines, Nilsson goes lower in the chorus, where as badfingers goes higher, i like badfingerse more.Kika - Nyc, Ny
This may be Badfingers tune, but I doubt many realize that. It will always be Nilsson's song in my book. This was played on AM stations quite a bit as I grew up during the 70's and traveled with my family. They don't write sappy love songs like that anymore. What passes for love songs today is just a bunch of pure garbage.Dee - Indianapolis, In
Badfinger's version is better because there's some actual emotion in it. Nilsson's version is a bit stale.Sam - West Covina, Ca
Mariah Carey covered this because her mother, an opera singer, used to sing this to Mariah all the time.Candice - Vancouver, Canada
No offense meant, but Badfinger's rendition of this song is choppy and amateurish. I'm amazed that Harry Nilsson was able to hear it and rearrange it into the power-pop anthem it became. He was an amazingly talanted man.Frank - Westminster, Sc
I still think Badfinger's original is the best version. You can't beat that organ that gently gathers volume as the song progresses plus the simplicity and emotion in the vocals. Nilsson, although he does a nice job, lacks the "push and shove" of the original.Roundabut1983 - Ithaca, Ny
Nilsson had a great voice....he's gone now...... He was friends with the Beatles..I think he and Ringo made some sort of Dracula-type movie together..George was part of that project too. He had a lot of good music...Several of his tunes are in the movie "You've Got Mail".Rich - Elkins, Wv
I remember copying some of the lyrics inside of a card...a card that had a photo of the ocean, and the surf. And mailing that card to a girlfriend. I wanted her back so bad. But...didn't work. Way back in 72...I was away at college at the time. (Sept 12 2004)Gary - Maple Shade, Nj
Nilsson never sang "live"Pete - Nowra, Australia
I recall reading a Rolling Stone interview many years ago telling how John Lennon was such a big fan of Nilsson before Lennon's death. Nilsson also well known for the "lime in the coconut" song.Paul - Greenwood, Sc
This Is so beautiful and it is such a shame the orginal writers killed themselves. I watched a TV programme about it and it said the orginal writer was out at a nightclub with his wife when he rushed home and suddenly he just song it and played it to hear and she just cryedJamie - Worcester, England
Covered by Heart (on Magazine) in 1978. (My favorite version.)Anton - Hayward, Ca
Badfinger's original version was never released as a single in the US -- "No Matter What" was their Top Ten hit from the "No Dice" LP.Brad Wind - Miami, Fl