♫ Without You ♫

As I mentioned last night, when I was struggling to find songs that I hadn’t already played here, dear David came to my rescue with a list of songs and artists.  Some, like Fat Larry’s Band, I had never heard before, but some struck a chord, such as the one I played night before last, To Love Somebody by Michael Bolton and also the Bee Gees.  One of the bands on David’s list was Badfinger, and they did a song I love, Without You, but the fact is that I much prefer Nilsson’s (Nilsson Schmilsson) version to Badfinger’s.   

Originally released by Badfinger in 1970, this was written by Badfinger members Peter Ham and Tom Evans.  Ham had written a song called Is This Love?,  but he wasn’t happy with the chorus. Evans came up with the “I can’t live if living is without you” chorus but had no verses for it, so they put the two songs together as one.

The Badfinger original wasn’t released as a single, so most people weren’t familiar with it. Nilsson’s version, laced with lush orchestration, became a huge hit, climbing to #1 in the U.S. in February 1972 and staying for four weeks. Nilsson was known as a songwriter and wrote most of the songs he recorded, but two of his biggest hits were covers: Without You and Everybody’s Talkin’.

According to SongFacts …

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, and their version of “Without You” was produced by Beatles associates Geoff Emerick and Mal Evans. Nilsson also had a Beatles connection: John Lennon helped launch his career when he referred to Harry as his “favorite American group.” He and Lennon enjoyed a destructive time together from 1973-1975 that became known as the “lost weekend.”

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.'” 

This song made a lot of money for a lot of people, but for those most entitled to the windfall, it had tragic consequences. As the song’s writers, Peter Ham and Tom Evans should have been set for life, but Badfinger’s label, Apple Records, collapsed in 1973 and they never got their due. Despondent over career setbacks and overwhelmed by myriad legal difficulties, Ham hanged himself in 1975. In 1983, Evans followed suit, hanging himself from a willow tree after a bitter argument with Badfinger guitarist Joey Molland about the royalties for “Without You.”

As for Nilsson, he didn’t handle success well. Alcoholism ran in his family, and the fame and fortune from “Without You” triggered him to drink. He went into a downward spiral, and his career and health never recovered. Nilsson died of heart failure in 1994 at age 52.

Well … I really liked this song, but until tonight I had no idea of the tragedies associated with it.  😔

Nilsson’s version charted at #1 in both the UK and the U.S.  Mariah Carey also covered this song in 1994, and it was released just a week after Nilsson’s death.

I give you both Badfinger and Nilsson’s versions tonight, for each has merit in its own right …

Without You
Badfinger/Nilsson

Well, I can’t forget this evening
And your face when you were leaving
But I guess that’s just the way the story goes
You always smile, but in your eyes your sorrow shows
Yes it shows

Well I can’t forget tomorrow
When I think of all my sorrow
I had you there, but then I let you go
And now it’s only fair that I should let you know
What you should know

I can’t live
If living is without you
I can’t live
I can’t give anymore
I can’t live
If living is without you
I can’t live
I can’t give anymore

Well, I can’t forget this evening
And your face when you were leaving
But I guess that’s just the way the story goes
You always smile, but in your eyes your sorrow shows
Yes it shows

I can’t live
If living is without you
I can’t live
I can’t give anymore
I can’t live
If living is without you
I can’t live
I can’t give anymore

I can’t live
If living is without you
I can’t live
I can’t give anymore
I can’t live
If living is without you
I can’t live
I can’t give anymore

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Evans Thomas / Ham Peter William
Without You lyrics © Apple Publishing Ltd., The Estate For Peter William Ham, The Estate For Thomas Evans, Apple Publ Ltd

34 thoughts on “♫ Without You ♫

  1. This is funny to me, as I listened to Badfinger’s original and then Nilsson’s cover of this song last Tuesday, Groundhog Day, and then watched an interesting short commentary about Nilsson’s life. I was familiar with Badfinger’s version first because I had the album that had it, though I preferred the song, “No Matter What” from that album. Cheers

    Note: And now “No Matter What” is stuck in my head. Geez.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. A brilliant song. I also prefer Harry Nilsson’s version, but I did like Badfinger when they were around – it’s good to see you’ve featured them before. The song seems cursed, somehow, and it seems sadly appropriate that Carey’s screeching was released on the back of Nilsson’s death. The record business never did allow good taste to get in the way of a fast buck.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I think Badfinger was more popular in the UK than here in the U.S., but for this song, everyone so far has preferred Nilsson’s, so at least I’m not a minority of one this time! Heh heh … I almost included Carey’s version on this post, but the image of you scowling at me stopped me short! No industry lets good taste stand in the way of profit, my friend. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Badfinger did better in the States than a lot of British bands at that time – the Beatles connection helped, I think.

        I’m glad my influence spared everyone from Mariah howling her way through the song – good decision!

        Sadly, you’re right on profit before good taste.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I’ve found a couple of Badfinger tunes that I remember from way back when, but only a couple. Yep, your influence saved the day! I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to play another Mariah Carey tune now! Seems that profit is all anybody cares about these days … sigh.

          Liked by 1 person

          • They had three big hits here plus a few lesser ones. The big three are Come And Get It, Day After Day, and No Matter What. You’ve probably already featured them anyway!

            I’m feeling guilty now, depriving Mariah fans of seeing her on your blog. Still, they can always take an iPad into a soundproofed room if they so desire 😉

            Profits come first in everything, sadly.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Jill, good song. A reason Badfinger sounded some like The Beatles, is they and James Taylor were two of the earlier artists Apple signed. On some of the songs, George or Paul could be found playing back-up. As you are an accountant by trade, Apple went belly up as The Beatles were horrible business managers. They had too many lavish parties with “hangers-on” and spent more than the revenue. Oops. Keith

    Liked by 5 people

  4. I also prefer Harry Nilsson’s version of WITHOUT YOU. Tough to listen to, though. SAD!!!!!
    Also ….even sadder to learn that the writer’s never got their fair due!!!! Can’t believe this song led to suicide!
    Unbelievable!!!!! Very sad that Nilsson passed away, too! 😢

    Liked by 4 people

    • I love the song, and was surprised that most everyone who commented preferred Nilsson’s version. The song lyrics don’t bother me so much as the legacy of the song, the suicides … sigh. But still, the song is good, yes? Hugs! ❤

      Like

  5. Badfinger did some good stuff, though I ignored then at the time after their breakout song, Come and Get it. That one could not be mistaken for the Beatles, it wasn’t even close to their abilities. So, if you really want Beatles’ soundalikes, I give you the Knickerbockers, from 1965, whom everyone was sure were the Beatles slumming in America;

    Liked by 3 people

    • Ahhhh … I knew that there was some Badfinger song that I remembered, but I couldn’t remember it … “Come and Get It” … that’s it! Knickerbockers … the name is familiar, but I can’t recall their music … I’ll check it out.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I regret to say I do prefer Nilsson’s version of this because Badfinger was a great group just not orchestrally inclined and it shapes up pretty well under that format. but the lads deserve great credit for writing such a gem.
    Cwtch

    Liked by 4 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s