Saturday, February 19, 1972

Harry Nilsson “Without You” hit #1

Without You

Harry Nilsson

Writer(s): Tom Evans, Peter Ham (see lyrics here)

Released: October 11, 1971

First Charted: December 10, 1971

Peak: 14 US, 12 CB, 13 GR, 12 HR, 15 AC, 12 CL, 15 UK, 11 CN, 15 AU, 4 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.84 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 25.3 video, 120.55 streaming

Without You

Mariah Carey

Released: August 31, 1993 (album cut on Music Box)

First Charted: January 28, 1994

Peak: 3 US, 12 CB, 14 GR, 2 RR, 4 AC, 14 UK, 4 CN, 3 AU, 20 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.89 US, 0.56 UK, 3.5 world (includes US+UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 656.70 video, 146.25 streaming

Awards (Nilsson):

Click on award for more details.

Awards (Carey):

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Guitarist Pete Ham and bassist Tommy Evans of Badfinger wrote “Without You” for their group’s 1970 album No Dice. While they didn’t release it as a single, it became a twice-over, transatlantic chart-topper, reaching #1 for Harry Nilsson in 1972 and Mariah Carey in 1994. It has been recorded more than 100 times. HL However, “far from being the men with the Midas touch” HL Ham and Evans “became two of rock ‘n’ roll’s most tragic casualties.” HL Both were hit with financial problems and committed suicide – Ham in 1975 and Evans in 1983.

Ham wrote the verses after letting down his girlfriend when he’d promised they’d go out and hit the studio instead. HL Meanwhile Evans had written a song called “I Can’t Live” after his girlfriend (and future wife) Marianne left him. WK They ended up merging Ham’s verses with Evans’ chorus to create “Without You.”

Harry Nilsson was “a hard-boozing rocker” TB and singer from America. When he heard “Without You” from the latter album, he liked it but thought it was a Beatles’ song. There was, in fact, a link between the two groups. Badfinger, formerly known as the Iveys, were signed to the Beatles’ Apple label in 1968. Paul McCartney then wrote “Come and Get It” for Badfinger and it became a top 10 in the U.S. and UK.

“Without You” “gained in stature with Nilsson’s stately interpretation” HL although the dripping-with-sentiment ballad has also been described as being full of “overwrought emotion…with tears to spare.” DT More than 20 years later, Mariah Carey recorded it for her 1993 Music Box album. It was released as the third single – a week after Harry Nilsson died of a heart attack. WK Billboard called it “a faithful rendition of the eternally sweet pop ballad” WK while The Washington Post’s Mike Joyce said, “Unlike Nilsson, Carey has the pipes to pull of this anguished pop aria.” WK However, Entertainment Weekly’s David Browne described it as a “by the numbers remake.” WK


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First posted 4/10/2023.

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