Be Without You

Album: The Breakthrough (2005)
Charted: 32 3
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • This was the first single from The Breakthrough. The song examines a relationship where the couple is trying to decide if they want to stay together, with Blige urging them to appreciate their blessings.
  • Blige worked on this with songwriters and producers from Jermaine Dupri's So So Def music group, who also worked on Mariah Carey's hit "We Belong Together." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France, for above 2
  • This was Blige's second #1 Billboard Adult R&B hit. Her first was "Not Gon' Cry" in March 1996. The gap of 9 years, 10 months and 2 weeks is the longest break between #1 hits for a lead artist in the history of the Adult R&B chart.
  • This song spent 15 weeks at #1 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. It was a modern era record for more than seven years until Robin Thicke spent 16 weeks on top of the tally with "Blurred Lines" in 2013.
  • The music video was shot in New York City, and starred Oscar-nominated actor Terrence Howard in the role of Blige's boyfriend. It won Video of the Year at the 2006 BET Awards. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England, for above 3
  • "Be Without You," also spent 75 weeks in the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs list, a record amount overtaking Usher's 71 week run with "You Make Me Wanna."
  • This won both the Best R&B Song and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance categories at the 2007 Grammy Awards. The Breakthrough also won the Best R&B Album award.
  • LaShonda Barnett, who wrote I Got Thunder: Black Women Songwriters and Their Craft, told us: "I have heard from numerous people that Mary J. Blige is 'our generation's (I am 34) Aretha Franklin.' That is quite a moniker and I believe that assertion speaks to the authenticity, the emotional honesty and the vulnerability Blige reveals in her music. Women who relate to her music strongly do so, more than likely, because they are personally significant." (Read more from LaShonda.)
  • Blige performed this, along with "Enough Cryin'," on Saturday Night Live in 2006.
  • This was one of four new tracks that were intended for Blige's greatest hits album, Reflections (A Retrospective), but were co-opted for The Breakthrough at the last minute.
  • Blige explained the significance of the album title: "I had to grow up in front of everyone, you know? And go through everything I went through. This is the hardest business to sustain and even think about sustaining after you have been through so much. And through it all, I tried to remain positive, I tried to get through the peaks and the valleys. When I'm in the valley I try to remain in a stable, positive position, which is hard to do. That's something in itself. Anything that's hard to do, you've got to break into it. You're not going to get through a door without the key unless you break it down. Or, you're not going to get through some glass unless you break through it, or bust through it, you know. So my life has been like, really, just one trial after the next, and heavy, heavy situations, so I managed to make it to this point, to where I'm actually feeling good about myself. I like myself. I understand that there will be more trials and tribulations and negative situations to come, but there's also a choice I can make, and I'm going to choose to be happy, and do the right thing. And that's what The Breakthrough is about."
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments: 2

  • Kristen from Scottsdale, AzThis is my wedding song. Although it is not your usual "wedding" song, my husband picked it due to it's meaningful lyrics to both of us. This song will always be very special.
  • Matt from Raleigh, NcGosh what a great song - the best I've heard in years - don't know how it didn't make it #1 on the Pop charts - only #3. Brian Michael Cox is a songwriting/producing genius and Mary J.'s range in this one is incredible - pure artistry and emotion.
see more comments

Stephen Christian of AnberlinSongwriter Interviews

The lead singer/lyricist for Anberlin breaks down "Impossible" and covers some tracks from their 2012 album Vital.

The Truth Is Out There: A History of Alien SongsSong Writing

The trail runs from flying saucer songs in the '50s, through Bowie, blink-182 and Katy Perry.

Richard MarxSongwriter Interviews

Richard explains how Joe Walsh kickstarted his career, and why he chose Hazard, Nebraska for a hit.

Peter LordSongwriter Interviews

You may not recognize his name, but you will certainly recognize Peter Lord's songs. He wrote the bevy of hits from Paula Abdul's second album, Spellbound.

Francesca BattistelliSongwriter Interviews

The 2011 Artist of the Year at the Dove Awards isn't your typical gospel diva, and she thinks that's a good thing.

John Lee HookerSongwriter Interviews

Into the vaults for Bruce Pollock's 1984 conversation with the esteemed bluesman. Hooker talks about transforming a Tony Bennett classic and why you don't have to be sad and lonely to write the blues.