Without You (Badfinger song)

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"Without You"
Song by Badfinger from the album No Dice
Released9 November 1970 (1970-11-09)
GenreSoft rock
LabelApple Records
ComposerPete Ham, Tom Evans
ProducerGeoff Emerick
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"Without You"
Song by Badfinger from the album No Dice
Released9 November 1970 (1970-11-09)
GenreSoft rock
LabelApple Records
ComposerPete Ham, Tom Evans
ProducerGeoff Emerick

"Without You" is a song written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans of British rock group Badfinger, and first released on their 1970 album No Dice. The song has been recorded by over 180 artists,[1] and versions released as singles by Harry Nilsson (1971) and Mariah Carey (1994) became international best-sellers. Paul McCartney once described the ballad as "...the killer song of all time."[2]

Writers Ham and Evans received the 1972 Ivor Novello award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically.[3]

Badfinger origins[edit]

First recorded by the rock group Badfinger, the song was composed by two of its members. Two streams, referring to real events in the songwriters' lives flowed together to create the song. Pete Ham had written a song originally titled "If It's Love" but it had lacked a strong chorus. At the time of writing the band shared residence with the Mojos at 7 Park Avenue in Golders Green. One evening, in the midst of the parties, songwriting, touring, in Golders Green, Ham and his girlfriend Beverly Tucker were about to go out for the evening. But just as they were leaving Tom Evans said he had an idea for a song – Ham said, 'Not tonight, I've promised Bev.' But she thought he would be wondering if he had done the right thing later, if he went out, – she told him – 'Go into the studio, I'm fine about it..' He said, " Your mouth is smiling, but your eyes are sad." The song Ham wrote that night was called 'If its Love' and has the verse "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..if it's love.." But Pete wasn't happy with the chorus."[4]

Events in Evans' love life would lead to the completion of the track. While Evans was touring in Cologne he had met the woman who would become his future wife, Marianne. She moved to London. It was a sparky relationship. "One evening he went to her friend Karen and told Karen, 'She's left me. I need her back. I can't live without her.' He flew to Bonn to find her – he wrote a song called 'I Can't Live'. Its chorus; "I can't live, if living is without you, I can't live, I can't give any more." And so the merging of the two songs,[5] Ham and Evans created the hit. Ham's verse, 'warm, sweet, sentimental' and Evans' chorus, – 'intense, dramatic, heartbreaking.'"[6] Both Ham and Evans said they did not consider the song to have much potential at the time Badfinger recorded it, and the track was slotted to close Side A of their 1970 No Dice album. Badfinger's recording of the song, which is more brusque than its successors' versions, was not released as a single in Europe or North America. In parallel to the song lyrics, both Ham and Evans later committed suicide. "Without You" was released backed by "We're For The Dark" in The Philippines on Apple Records, Catalogue number APPLE-025, "Without You" was also finally released as a 3" CD single in Japan in March 1993 along with the track "No Matter What".

Harry Nilsson version[edit]

"Without You"
Single by Harry Nilsson
from the album Nilsson Schmilsson
B-side"Gotta Get Up"
Released11 October 1971 (1971-10-11)
Format7" single
GenreBaroque pop
Producer(s)Richard Perry

Harry Nilsson, at the time was best known for his hit "Everybody's Talkin'" and for composing such hits as Three Dog Night's "One", heard Badfinger's recording of "Without You" at a party,[7] and mistook it for a Beatles song.[8] After realising it was not, he decided to cover the song for his album Nilsson Schmilsson in 1971; it stayed at number 1 on the U.S. pop chart for four weeks, from 13 February to 11 March 1972. The song also spent five weeks atop the U.S. adult contemporary chart. Billboard ranked it as the No. 4 song for 1972.[9]

In the UK, the song spent five weeks at number 1 on the British pop chart, beginning on 11 March, and sold almost 800,000 copies.[10] It went to Number One in several other countries, including Australia (for 5 weeks), Ireland (3 weeks) and New Zealand (2 weeks).

The single was produced by Richard Perry, who later explained, "It was a different record for its time. It was a big ballad with a heavy backbeat, and although many artists have cut songs like it since, no one was doing it then."[11] Gary Wright, then known as a member of the British group Spooky Tooth, and later a successful solo artist in his own right, played piano on the recording.[11] Also featured are Klaus Voormann (bass), Jim Keltner (drums) and Tom Plovanic (acoustic guitar). The string and horn arrangements are by Paul Buckmaster. In 1973, Nilsson won the "Best Male Pop Vocal" Grammy award for the song.[12] While Nilsson rarely gave live concerts, he did perform the song with Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas in September 1992.[13]

Harry Nilsson track listing[edit]

Worldwide Single

  1. "Without You" – 3:17
  2. "Gotta Get Up" – 2:24

EP (Portugal)

  1. "Without You" – 3:17
  2. "The Moonbeam Song" – 3:18
  3. "Gotta Get Up" – 2:24
  4. "Jump Into The Fire" – 3:32

Chart performance[edit]


Mariah Carey version[edit]

"Without You"
Single by Mariah Carey
from the album Music Box
B-side"Never Forget You"
ReleasedJanuary 23, 1994 (1994-01-23)
FormatCD single, cassette single, 7" single, 12" maxi single
Producer(s)Walter Afanasieff, Mariah Carey
CertificationPlatinum (Australia, Austria, France, Germany, Netherlands)
Gold (New Zealand, Switzerland, UK, U.S.)
Mariah Carey singles chronology
"Without You"/"Never Forget You"
"Anytime You Need a Friend"
Music Box track listing
"Never Forget You"
"Without You"
"Just to Hold You Once Again"

Mariah Carey's version, based on Harry Nilsson's version rather than the Badfinger original, was released as the third single of Music Box in the first quarter of 1994, and in the United States it was released on 24 January 1994,[16] just over a week after Nilsson had died following a heart attack on 15 January 1994. In the U.S. it was promoted as a double A-side with "Never Forget You". Carey said that she decided to cover the song when she heard it in a restaurant (although when performing the song in Tokyo, she said she listened to it when she was a little girl). Her version has been considered very popular on talent shows.[17] "Without You" was later included on some non-U.S. pressings of her compilation album #1's (1998), and her 2001 compilation, Greatest Hits.

Critical reception[edit]

David Browne of Entertainment Weekly called it a "by-the-numbers remake of Nilsson's melodramatic 1972 hit."[18] Stephen Holden of Rolling Stone called this song "likeliest contender" for ballads like "I Will Always Love You" and he praised "Carey dips into her lower register and is accompanied by backup singers (including herself) magnified to sound like a mighty gospel chorus."[19]

Chart performance[edit]

"Without You" reached number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, remaining in the top 40 for 21 weeks and on the chart for 23. It reached number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay and number 3 on the Hot 100 Singles Sales. Both radio airplay and sales were strong, and it was certified gold by the RIAA. It was ranked 16 on the Hot 100 1994 year-end charts.

"Without You" remains Carey's biggest hit across Europe. It became her first UK number 1 single, and was her only number one there until Against All Odds, which was also a cover. It debuted at number 1 on the chart and stayed at number 1 for four weeks.[20] It was also her first chart-topper in Italy, but was most successful in Switzerland (with ten non-consecutive weeks at number 1) and the Netherlands (twelve weeks). It also topped the singles chart in Germany for four weeks and Austria for eight weeks, where Carey's success had previously been limited. It also topped the Swedish Singles Chart for eight weeks, was number 1 in Ireland for five weeks and in New Zealand for one week. It was able to make the top three in Canada, France, Norway and Australia. It was certified platinum in Australia by ARIA and in Germany and Austria by IFPI. It was also certified gold in New Zealand by RIANZ and in France by SNEP.

The song is one of only two Carey singles certified Gold in the UK with sales of 445,000.[21]

Mariah Carey track listing[edit]

Worldwide CD single

  1. "Without You" – 3:38
  2. "Never Forget You" – 3:45

European maxi-CD single #1

  1. "Without You" – 3:38
  2. "Never Forget You" – 3:45
  3. "Dreamlover (live)" – 4:09

European maxi-CD single #2

  1. "Without You" – 3:38
  2. "Vision of Love" – 3:28
  3. "I'll Be There" (Featuring Trey Lorenz) – 4:28
  4. "Love Takes Time" – 3:48


Other cover versions[edit]

Shirley Bassey covered the song twice, once for the album And I Love You So in 1972, and again in Spanish as "Sin Ti" for the 1989 album La Mujer. This Spanish version of the ballad has also been recorded by Paloma San Basilio. Andy Williams released a version in 1972 on his album, Love Theme from "The Godfather". A salsa style has been recorded by Antonio Cartagena, Tito Nieves, and Orquesta Corinto.[citation needed] A merengue version of "Sin ti" was recorded by Klasse Aparte in 1996.[citation needed] Abraham Mateo, an 11-year-old Spanish boy, and Caroline Costa, a 13-year-old French girl, released a Spanish version for the album Abraham Mateo. A different Spanish translation, "Desde el dia que te fuiste" ("From the Day You Went Away"), was a #1 hit for Pandora on Billboard's Hot Latin Tracks in 1992.[52] This version was covered by operatic pop band Il Divo for the album Siempre, in 2006.

The London Symphony Orchestra included the song on their 1977 album Classic Rock. Cilla Black included the song on her January 1973 record, Day By Day with Cilla.[citation needed] Heart included their cover on the album Magazine, in 1978. Melissa Manchester included the song on her album For The Working Girl, in 1980.[citation needed] Pop group Brotherhood of Man recorded a version for their 20 Love Songs album in 1981. T.G. Sheppard included the song on his Greatest Hits album in 1983. Elaine Paige recorded a version on her 1985 album Love Hurts. Air Supply included the song on The Earth Is... in 1991.

A version by Ham on the Golders Green album, released posthumously in 1999, contains Ham's original "if it's love, that you're needing" bridge, and is only 2:16 in length.[citation needed] Bobby Conn recorded it for the Llovessonngs EP, in 1999. Donny Osmond recorded the song for the album Somewhere in Time, released in November 2002. In 2003 the song was released by Natalia, on the album This Time, and Jade Kwan, on the album Jade-2 Special Edition. Hall & Oates released a cover of this song on their album, Our Kind of Soul in 2004, a year that also saw covers by Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (Will Oldham) with Bob Marley's Babylon System for the EP Pebbles and Ripples, and Weezer front man Rivers Cuomo, who posted his cover on his MySpace page.[citation needed] Wing featured the song on the album One Voice in 2007. In 2008 Chris de Burgh included the song on the album Footsteps and Swedish artist Timo Räisänen released a cover on his album And Then There Was Timo.

The song is often covered by TV talent show contestants such as Kelly Clarkson, who sang it on the first season of American Idol in 2002. It appears on Clay Aiken's album A Thousand Different Ways from 2006 and as a b-side of Alexandra Burke's "Hallelujah" single[citation needed] after her performance of it on the fifth series of The X Factor. A version was sung by Carly Smithson on the seventh season of American Idol the week that Mariah Carey mentored the contestants.[citation needed] American Idol Season 10 finalist James Durbin covered the song during the Top 5 'Then and Now' Week. Valentina Hasan, a season two contestant of Music Idol, sang her own version in Engrish. Soon dubbed "Ken Lee" after her mispronunciation of "Can't Live," the video of Hasan's performance became a YouTube hit, parodied and remixed by many fans[53] as featured in Sign of the Times on ABC's Nightline in March 2009.[54]

Mina performed the song with Johnny Dorelli in the Italian translation, "Per chi" (1978), a version that has also been released by Gens. Angela Aki rewrote most of the lyrics in Japanese loosely based on the original words with the final verse in English, released as a b-side on her 2010 single Kagayaku Hito.[citation needed]. Stryper lead singer Michael Sweet performed the song on his 2007 solo album Touched (Michael Sweet album).

Vikki Carr covered the song on her 1972 album "The First Time Ever (I Saw Your Face) / Song Sung Blue".

In films and television[edit]

Nilsson's version of "Without You" was used as the opening tune to the 1979 feature film Porridge. In the film Casino, the Nilsson version is playing during one of Ginger's manic episodes. In the film The Rules of Attraction, a college girl commits suicide in a bathtub while this song plays on the soundtrack. In Bridget Jones' Diary, the title character laments that a drunken rendition of this song may have alienated her from her handsome boss, Daniel Cleaver.

In the British sketch comedy programme Smack the Pony in the sketch Singing Match.

In June 2010 the Harry Nilsson version of the song was used in television advertising for the UK brand Soda Stream.[citation needed]

Nilsson's version was also included in the Apple Productions Movie, "The Son of Dracula".

It was also used in the final scenes of the Inside No. 9 episode A Quiet Night In.

In series two of Peep Show this song was featured in the episode titled 'Wedding'.

ASCAP and Ivor Novello recognition[edit]

On 15 May 1995, at ASCAP's twelfth annual Pop Music Awards in Beverly Hills, California, "Without You" was recognised as one of the 50 most-played songs of 1994 (due largely to Mariah Carey's recording). Discrepancies in ASCAP's books, resulting from a lawsuit against the Ham and Evans estates by their former manager, incorrectly attributed the song as being composed not only by Ham and Evans, but also by Badfinger's other bandmembers, Mike Gibbins and Joey Molland, and their former manager, Bill Collins. This designation and a lack of correction by ASCAP prompted the Ham Estate to boycott the ceremony. The song was also nominated for "Song Of The Year" in London at the Ivor Novello Awards.[55]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ According to the ASCAP
  2. ^ Paul McCartney VH1 Behind The Music, Retrieved 10 June 2009
  3. ^ Lister, David, Pop ballads bite back in lyrical fashion, The Independent, 28 May 1994
  4. ^ "BBC Radio 2 - Song Stories, Without You". Bbc.co.uk. 9 February 2011. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  5. ^ "Badfinger – Without You". BBC Wales. Retrieved 2 May 2011. 
  6. ^ Song Stories, Radio 2, 9 February 2011
  7. ^ Matovina 2000, p. 152.
  8. ^ [1][dead link]
  9. ^ Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1972
  10. ^ Dafydd Rees and Luke Crampton, Rock Stars Encyclopedia (New York: DK Publishing, 1999), 714.
  11. ^ a b ""Without You" - Nilsson". Superseventies.com. 19 February 1972. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  12. ^ Matovina 2000, p. 209.
  13. ^ Chip Madinger and Mark Easter, Eight Arms To Hold You: The Solo Beatles Compendium (Chesterfield, MO: 44.1 Productions, 2000), 543.
  14. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  15. ^ "American single certifications – Nilsson – Without You". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 5 February 2013.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
  16. ^ Matovina 2000, p. 395.
  17. ^ "Mariah's "Without you" popular on talent searches – The Mariah Carey Archives". Mcarchives.com. Retrieved 9 April 2012. 
  18. ^ Browne, David (27 August 1993). "Music Box Review | Music Reviews and News". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  19. ^ "Music Box | Album Reviews". Rolling Stone. Jann Wenner. 28 October 1993. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  20. ^ "Without You on ChartStats". Chartstats.com. Retrieved 9 April 2012. 
  21. ^ [2][dead link]
  22. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Mariah Carey – Without You". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  23. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Mariah Carey – Without You" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  24. ^ "Canadian RPM - Top Singles - Volume 59, No. 10, March 28, 1994". RPM. 1994. p. 75. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  25. ^ "Billboard 25. jun 1994". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 1994. p. 75. Retrieved 24 February 2012. 
  26. ^ "Mariah Carey Album & Song Chart History" European Hot 100 for Mariah Carey.
  27. ^ "Lescharts.com – Mariah Carey – Without You" (in French). Les classement single.
  28. ^ "Chartverfulgong > Carey,Mariah > Without You – musicline.de" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  29. ^ Ward, Jaclyn. "Irish Singles Chart". Irishcharts.ie. Retrieved 9 April 2012. 
  30. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Mariah Carey search results" (in Dutch) Dutch Top 40.
  31. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Mariah Carey – Without You". Top 40 Singles.
  32. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Mariah Carey – Without You". VG-lista.
  33. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Mariah Carey – Without You". Singles Top 60.
  34. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Mariah Carey – Without You". Swiss Singles Chart.
  35. ^ "February 1994/ Archive Chart: 19 February 1994" UK Singles Chart.
  36. ^ "Mariah Carey Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot 100 for Mariah Carey.
  37. ^ "Mariah Carey Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Pop Songs for Mariah Carey.
  38. ^ "Mariah Carey Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs for Mariah Carey.
  39. ^ "Mariah Carey Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Adult Contemporary for Mariah Carey.
  40. ^ "Jahrescharts 1994". Retrieved 27 August 2010. 
  41. ^ "Billboard Top 100 – 1994". Retrieved 27 August 2010. 
  42. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 1993 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association. 
  43. ^ "Austrian single certifications – Mariah Carey – Without You" (in German). IFPI Austria. Retrieved 12 December 2012.  Enter Mariah Carey in the field Interpret. Enter Without You in the field Titel. Select single in the field Format. Click Suchen
  44. ^ "French single certifications – Mariah Carey – Without You" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Retrieved 12 December 2012. 
  45. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Mariah Carey; 'Without You')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved 12 December 2012. 
  46. ^ "Dutch single certifications – Mariah Carey – Without You" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Retrieved 12 December 2012. 
  48. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Mariah Carey; 'Without You')". Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 December 2012. 
  49. ^ "British single certifications – Mariah Carey – Without You". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 12 December 2012.  Enter Without You in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Gold in the field By Award. Click Search
  50. ^ Myers, Justin (14 February 2014). "Official Charts Flashback 1994: Mariah Carey – Without You". Official Charts Company. 
  51. ^ "American single certifications – Mariah Carey – Without You". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 12 December 2012.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
  52. ^ "Desde el Dia Que Te Fuista – Pandora". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. 27 June 1992. Retrieved 31 October, 20111.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  53. ^ [3][dead link]
  54. ^ "Gained In Translation | Video - ABC News". Abcnews.go.com. 13 March 2009. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  55. ^ , page 395, Matovina, Dan. Without You: The Tragic Story of Badfinger, Google Books, 2000. Retrieved 17 June 2009


External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Let's Stay Together" by Al Green
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single (Nilsson version)
19 February 1972 (four weeks)
Succeeded by
"Heart of Gold" by Neil Young
Preceded by
"Hurting Each Other" by The Carpenters
Billboard Easy Listening Singles number-one single (Nilsson version)
19 February 1972 (five weeks)
Succeeded by
"Rock and Roll Lullaby" by BJ Thomas
Preceded by
"Son of my Father" by Chicory Tip
UK Singles Chart number-one single (Nilsson version)
11 March 1972 (5 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Amazing Grace" by The Pipes & Drums of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards
Preceded by
"Things Can Only Get Better" by D:Ream
UK Singles Chart number-one single (Mariah Carey version)
13 February 1994 (4 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Doop" by Doop