Harry Nilsson – Without You

Nilsson’s vocal on this song is outstanding. He took a small blues song written by Badfinger’s Pete Ham and Tom Evans and turned it into an epic. Ham had written a song called “Is This Love?” but 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. Both would die broke while this song made millions. Ham and Evans never considered it a strong song.

The song was a smash… peaking at #1 in the Billboard 100 as well as Canada and the UK in 1971. Mariah Carey also released the song on Jan 15 1994 (the day Nilsson died) and the song proved to be a smash again.

From 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. 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.'”

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.

Badfinger’s original version is under Nilsson’s version

Without You

No I can’t forget this evening or your face as 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

No I can’t forget tomorrow
When I think of all my sorrow
When 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 give
I can’t give anymore

Well, I can’t forget this evening or your face as 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

No no no no I can’t live
If living is without you
I can’t live
I can’t give anymore
I can’t live

 

Author: badfinger20

Guitar, Bass, song writer,

26 thoughts on “Harry Nilsson – Without You”

    1. Everyone thought this one was his…He really turned this song into another song altogether. You are right… I loved his original songs…I thought he wrote Everybody’s Talkin’ until I watched that documentary… His voice was out of this world.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Off topic… I read where the Dodgers are trying to trade for the Pirate’s catcher Francisco Cervelli… They have talked Ross Stripling. He is a good 4 or 5 pitcher and on some days can shut down teams.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. As a Pirate fan I would like that deal. The bad thing about Cervelli is he always seems to be hurt. I always like adding pitching… Cerveilli is fine when he’s healthy and he has a lot of hustle and enthusiasm- a fan favorite.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Cervelli is 32 I believe… I don’t know if it’s more involved or a one – one trade. Stripling is a good starting pitcher and can pitch in relief.
        I’m still hoping for Kluber.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh wow. They are not resigning Grandal and they need a stop gap til their prospect comes up in 2020.
        They are trying also to trade Puig and Kemp to clear money.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. They won’t find the Pirates taking anyone who makes $$$$ the Pirates as you know run a tight ship when it comes to money– counting every paper clip!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I saw that- he was a decent shortstop for them but $5 million a year when they got a young shortstop from Cleveland they can pay the minimum! Also dumped Nova off to WSox- for a 19 year old pitcher- who knows about that one- one of those deals you will have to wait and see on… I see the Phillies signed McCutchen- I think they overpayed -he’s on the downside.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. The Phillies did overpay…. I think they paid more for him as a person to mentor than a player…thats a hell of a person lol. I think the Phillies will be the one that will get Harper.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I am wondering- it seems like teams are being tight with their money- I see the Red Sox are talking about moving key pieces to get under that luxury tax. Did the Phillies get a high priced pitcher too or just rumoured to be in the hunt?

        Liked by 1 person

      8. I think just rumored but the owner came out and said they were going to “spend stupidly”… that is setting your self up.
        The Dodgers want to stay under the tax also…they did last year and they want to for years to come.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. If they are not trying to improve their team… it’s just wrong. Yea it’s a business but it’s more…especially a founding team like the Pirates.

        I think all of those teams got like a big bump off of some national deal this year.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. I read something about that- a big bump indeed. teams should have a minimum amount they HAVE to spend no salaries.

        Like

      11. Nutting doesn’t get it- attendance fell drastically this year- cutting salary again isn’t going to help matters. He won’t spend the money he saved getting rid of Nova let alone the tv money and money he gets due to the tax on high salary teams. A shame he owns a team.

        Liked by 1 person

      12. It really is… looks like the powers to be would do something. Make them spend a percentage back. I don’t see fans expecting a 200 million payroll…just try.
        If I were the high payroll teams that would piss me off.

        Liked by 1 person

      13. yes I agree the Pirates can’t spend with the big boys- but the cycle of constantly saying you are rebuilding- and trading off veterans for ‘prospects’ has grown old. Make an effort.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Harry made this an amazing song. If I ever knew it was Badfinger’s, I’d long forgotten. Kudos to them for the great lyrics and melody. I wish they were still here to have experienced its success. I wish Harry was still here, too.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. He transformed it into his song. Pete and Tom heard the playback of Harry’s version before anyone else…and were said to be amazed.
      They just wrote a small simple blues song.

      Liked by 1 person

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