Thursday, August 28, 2014

Forgotten Music Thursday: Nilsson - Without You (1972)

Once in awhile a piece of music sounds so generic that you wonder what someone else hears in it but that's what makes some people musicians while millions of us without talent work in cubicles. They hear things in songs we never will. One of those blessed with such talent was the late Harry Nilsson who obviously heard something in Badfinger's "Without You" that no one else did, not even the song's composers.

The troubled British quartet released the original version of "Without You," written by the band's Tom Evans and Pete Ham, for their 1970 album, No Dice. However, their arrangement of this soon-to-be massive 1972 hit for Nilsson never got noticed by the public and it was destined to be just another deep track from a classic album.  Even Ham and Evans believed it was nothing more than album filler.

Badfinger's recording is quite thin when compared to Nilsson's more melodramatic take that appeared on his 1971 Nilsson Schmilsson LP.  The 45 RPM that was culled from his album reached #1 on the US pop charts and stayed there for four weeks in the winter of '72.

Mariah Carey also covered the song as a single in 1994 and she rode it to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in America. It also became her biggest hit in Europe. Carey's performance was based on Nilsson's record and because it lacked the originality that his did the critics were not as kind to her.

Today, it is Nilsson's version that still resonates while almost no one remembers the original Badfinger track.


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