Harry Nilsson

Without You

Composed by Pete Ham / Tom Evans

Song Review by

"Without You" was originally recorded by Badfinger, but it's mostly associated with the hit cover versions of the song, first by Nilsson in the early '70s, then by Mariah Carey in the mid-'90s. It would be fair to say, then, that Badfinger had no idea of the song's commercial potential when the band used it as a mere album track on its 1970 LP No Dice. As originally recorded by Badfinger, "Without You" was a nice melancholy love ballad, one that, like so many of its songs, had a Paul McCartney-like melody. "Without You" was gloomier, though, than Badfinger's habitual cheery harmonized pop, the desperation peaking on the chorus, where the narrator's proclamation that he couldn't live without his lover anymore mounted in intensity. Badfinger didn't emphasize the drama of the chorus as much as they could have, or pull out all the stops in the track's production -- it was just an album cut, after all. It took Harry Nilsson to fully exploit the song's melodrama, and it was fitting that Nilsson covered it, as, like Badfinger, his music and career had often been compared to and associated with Beatles-lite. Nilsson, with assistance from producer Richard Berry and Paul Buckmaster (who arranged and conducted the strings and horns), made the song over into an orchestrated operetta. In particular, he almost reinvented the chorus, not melodically but by singing it in his operatic range against swelling orchestration. When Badfinger sang the chorus, they sounded resigned; when Nilsson sang it, he sounded almost suicidally desperate. The public responded to his entreaties by giving him a number one single with it in 1972. The record went on to become a commercial radio perennial, not just on oldies stations, but also on adult contemporary and easy listening ones. Its radio exposure multiplied, though in a fashion that annoyed many who had valued Nilsson's interpretation, when Mariah Carey had a big hit with an unimaginative cover version in 1994.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Nilsson Schmilsson 1971 BMG
No Image 1978 3:17
Harry Nilsson's Greatest Hits 1983 RCA
The Golden Love Album, Vol. 1 1987
Various Artists
BMG 3:19
Sounds of the Seventies: 1972 1989
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:21
Nipper's #1 Hits: 1956-1986 1990
Various Artists
RCA
Without Her - Without You: The Very Best of Harry Nilsson, Vol. 1 1990 RCA
Nipper's Greatest Hits: The 70's 1990
Various Artists
RCA 3:15
No Image 1991
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
Our Songs: Singers & Songwriters Encore 1992
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:22
Hits 94, Vol. 1 1994
Various Artists
Telstar
No Image 1994
Various Artists
Castle Music Ltd.
The Very Best of That Loving Feeling 1994
Various Artists
Dino Entertainment 3:15
Love Over Gold [Telstar] 1994
Various Artists
Telstar 3:15
Endless Love [PolyGram TV] 1995
Various Artists
Polygram
Personal Best: The Harry Nilsson Anthology 1995 RCA 3:22
Hearts Desire: 18 Classic Love Songs 1995
Various Artists
Castle Music Ltd. 3:17
Casino [Original Soundtrack] 1995
Original Soundtrack
MCA 3:20
Love Album, Vol. 2 1995
Various Artists
Virgin
No Image 1995
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:17
The No. 1 Love Album 1996
Various Artists
Music Club Deluxe 3:20
Do You Love Me?: All-Time Best Love Songs 1996
Various Artists
BMG 3:24
Only Rock 'N Roll 1970-1974: #1 Radio Hits 1996
Various Artists
Essex 3:19
Best of Rock [BMG] 1996
Various Artists
BMG Special Products 3:18
Greatest Soundtrack Hits, Vol. 2 1997
Original Soundtrack
Priority 3:21
Billboard Top Soft Rock Hits: 1972 1997
Various Artists
Rhino 3:22
WCBS FM 101.1 25th Anniversary, Vol. 3: The 70's - Silver Anniversary Edition 1997
Various Artists
Collectables 3:14
Rock 'N Roll Relix: 1970-1971 1997
Various Artists
Eclipse Records
Rock 'N Roll Relix: 1970-1978 1997
Various Artists
BCI-Eclipse Distribution / Eclipse Music Group 3:17
Mixed Emotions 1997
Various Artists
Polygram 3:17
Number Ones: Lovin' Feelings 1998
Various Artists
Simitar Distribution 3:17
One and Only Love Album 1998
Various Artists
Polydor/Polygram 3:22
Love Songs of the 60's, 70's and 80's 1998
Various Artists
Columbia River Entertainment Group 3:19
Sweet Dreams: Pure Pop Collection 1998
Various Artists
BMG Special Products
Time in a Bottle 1998
Various Artists
Delta Distribution 2:28
Pick of the 70's, Vol. 2 1998
Various Artists
Crimson Productions
All by Myself [Crimson] 1998
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 3:19
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Love and Inspiration 1998
Various Artists
Rhino 3:22
Body Talk: Hearts Together 1998
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:18
Missing Compilation 1998
Various Artists
Universo 3:14
Love Songs [Columbia River] 1999
Various Artists
Columbia River Entertainment Group 3:19
The Very Best of the Love Album 1999
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:17
The Best of Nilsson 1999 Arista
The Greatest Hits of the 70s [Box Set #1] 1999
Various Artists
Platinum Disc Corp. / Platinum Disc 3:22
Billboard Top Soft Rock Hits: 1970-1974 1999
Various Artists
Rhino 3:22
Kuschelrock Special Edition 1999
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 3:15
Time in a Bottle: Mellow Rock Classics 1999
Various Artists
Delta Distribution 3:20
Love Songs [Time Life] 1999
Various Artists
Chakras Dream 3:18
Chicken Soup for the Soul: A Christmas Gift to You 1999
Various Artists
Rhino 3:22
Sounds of the 70's [Global TV] 1999
Various Artists
Global TV 3:10
The Power of Love [BMG UK Boxset] 1999
Various Artists
BMG 3:20
Slow Motion Century Edition 2000
Various Artists
BMG International 3:20
Singers & Songwriters: 1974-1975 [2000] 2000
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 3:22
Everybody's Talkin': The Very Best of Harry Nilsson [Camden] 2000 Camden 3:22
The Official American Bandstand Library of Rock & Roll 2000
Various Artists
Atlantic 3:16
Entertainment Weekly: The Greatest Hits 1972 2000
Various Artists
Buddha Records 3:21
Number One 70's 2000
Various Artists
PolyGram 3:13
Casey Kasem: America's Top 10 Through the Years 2000
Various Artists
Top Sail Productions 3:23
Burning Hearts, Vol. 1 2000
Various Artists
Polygram 3:19
No Image 2000
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution
No Image 2000
Various Artists
Music For Pleasure
Singers & Songwriters: 1972-1973 2000
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:20
'70s Rock Hits 2001
Various Artists
Compose Records 3:16
Best of Romantic Rock, Vol. 2 2001
Various Artists
BMG Special Marketing 3:21
Love Ballads to Remember 2001
Various Artists
Columbia River Entertainment Group / BMG Special Products 3:19
No Greater Love 2001
Various Artists
Global TV 3:12
Radio Songs 2001
Various Artists
Global TV 3:19
Casey Kasem: America's Top 10 Through Years - The 70's 2001
Various Artists
Top Sail Productions 3:23
Sunday Love Songs 2001
Various Artists
Universal International 3:21
Without You 2001 DJ Specialist / Disky 3:16
Entertainment Weekly: The Greatest Hits 1970-1974 2001
Various Artists
Buddha Records 3:21
45's: 45 Classic No. 1's 2001
Various Artists
BMG
The Ultimate Hits of the 70's 2001
Various Artists
Collectables 3:19
Bridget Jones's Dairy 2 2001
Original Soundtrack
Universal 3:19
The Ultimate Jukebox Hits of the '70s, Vol. 1 2001
Various Artists
Collectables 3:19
Jukebox Hits of the '70s [Collectables] 2002
Various Artists
Collectables 3:31
The Love Album: Classics 2002
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:17
Greatest Hits [2002] 2002 BMG Heritage / RCA
40 Years of Jukebox Hits: The 50's, 60's, 70's & 80's 2002
Various Artists
Collectables 3:19
The Masters 2002 Eagle Rock 3:23
Greatest Hits [Japan Import] 2002 BMG 3:21
The Rules of Attraction 2002
Original Soundtrack
Lionsgate 3:20
Unchained Melodies [Telstar TV] 2002
Various Artists
BMG
The Ultimate Gangster Movie Soundtrack 2002
Various Artists
BMG
No Image 2003
Various Artists
Sony BMG
Amour [Universal] 2003
Various Artists
Universal Distribution
The Best of Harry Nilsson [BMG Import] 2003 Sony Music Distribution 3:23
Good Morning Vietnam: A Soundtrack for a Generation 2004
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 3:14
No Image 2004
Various Artists
BMG Special Products 3:18
Capital Gold Love Legends 2004
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:18
Love Songs 2004 Arista / BMG 3:22
Classic Tearjerkers [Time/Life] 2004
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:21
Straight from the Heart [Box Set] 2004
Various Artists
Universal Special Products 3:21
Sad Songs 2004
Various Artists
Virgin
Power Ballads [EMI] 2004
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
Best of 70's 2004
Various Artists
WEA
Spirit of Woodstock 2004
Various Artists
BMG International
Saturday Night Rocks 2004
Various Artists
BMG Special Products 3:18
Heartbreakers [Crimson] 2005
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 3:16
Ultimate 70s Pop 2005
Various Artists
Bmg Tv 3:18
On the Border 2005
Various Artists
Disky Communications 3:15
Reunited: The Last Dance 2005
Various Artists
Disky 3:15
Ultimate 16: Lite FM Best Of 2005
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 3:21
Ultimate Seventies 2005
Various Artists
Time/Life Music
Beautiful Lovesongs 2006
Various Artists
Sony BMG 3:08
World's Best Mum 2006
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution
No Image 2006
Various Artists
Sony/CBS
Everybody's Talkin': The Very Best of Harry Nilsson [RCA] 2006 Legacy / RCA 3:22
Guinness Book of Hit Singles: Ultimate 70's No. 1's 2006
Various Artists
BMG / Sony BMG 3:18
Nissan Driving Pleasure 2006
Various Artists
BMG
Billboard #1s: The '70s 2006
Various Artists
Rhino 3:21
Greatest Ever! Love: The Definitive Collection [2006] 2006
Various Artists
Union Square Music 3:17
All #1 Hits '70s 2006
Various Artists
Madacy 3:19
Collections 2006 Legacy / Sony BMG 3:15
The Ultimate Love Collection [EMI Gold] 2006
Various Artists
EMI 3:19
Love Songs Collection [Flashback] 2007
Various Artists
Flashback Records
The Seventies: Soft 70's Gold, Vol. 1 2007
Various Artists
American Beat Records 3:17
Absolute Legends 2007
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 3:21
No Image 2007
Various Artists
Politur 3:27
Bigger, Better Power Ballads, Vol. 2 2007
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
No Image 2007
Various Artists
Best of Tearjerkers 2007
Various Artists
Apace / Best Of Records 3:19
No Image 2007
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:20
Paraiso Tropical: Internacional 2007
Various Artists
Som Livre 3:18
The No. 1 70s Pop Album 2007
Various Artists
Music Club Deluxe 3:18
Top of the Pops: 1972 2007
Various Artists
EMI 3:19
No Image 2007
Various Artists
The Ultimate Rock Ballads Collection [Time Life] 2007
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:20
Just for Mum 2007
Various Artists
Platinum Entertainment 3:19
One: The Best of Nilsson 2007 Music Club Records / Music Club Deluxe 3:24
The Ultimate Rock Ballads Collection: The Flame 2007
Various Artists
Rhino 3:20
100 Hits: No 1's 2008
Various Artists
100 Hits
Alan Jones Presents Songs of Love and Inspiration 2008
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 3:21
No Image 2008
Various Artists
Sony BMG 3:19
Mysiga Stunder, Vol. 3 2008
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:17
The Ultimate Collection 100 Hits: Love 2008
Various Artists
Union Square Music 3:18
Seventies Power Ballads 2008
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution / Virgin 3:18
No Image 2008
Various Artists
Sbm Records / Sony BMG 3:15
Gold Tin Box Collection: Greatest Love Songs 2008
Various Artists
sbc / Sony Music Entertainment 3:15
101 Power Ballads 2008
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:18
Jackie: The Album, Vol. 2 2008
Various Artists
Virgin 3:16
Ultimate 70s Collection [Collectables] 2008
Various Artists
Collectables 3:20
Die Ultimative Chartshow: Herzschmerz Songs 2008
Various Artists
Polystar (Japan) / Universal Music
Romancing the 70s: My Love 2008
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:20
Without You: The Best of Harry Nilsson 2009 Camden / Sony Music / Sony Music Distribution
The Pop Years: 1972-1973 2009
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 3:17
Original Album Classics 2009 Sony BMG / RCA 3:21
The Best Year of My Life: 1972 2009
Various Artists
Sony Music
Forever Friends: A Song for You 2009
Various Artists
Sony Music Entertainment 3:20
No Image 2009
Various Artists
Commercial Canada 3:15
Essential Memories of Love 2010
Various Artists
3:18
Essential: Girls Night In 2010
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:20
Always a Woman 2010
Various Artists
Universal Distribution / Universal Music TV 3:18
The  Pop Years: The 70s 2010
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 3:17
School of "Rock 'n' Roll": 70s 2010
Various Artists
Collectables 3:20
Essential: The 90s 2010
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:18
Greatest Ever! Love: The Definitive Collection 2010
Various Artists
Union Square 3:17
Salut Les Copains, Vol. 3: 1969-1976 2010
Various Artists
Universal Distribution / Universal Music 3:17
Romancing the '70s 2010
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:20
Las 50 Grandes Canciones de Universal 92.1 FM Stereo 2010
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:13
Singers & Songwriters [Time-Life Box Set] 2011
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:20
Haynes Ultimate Guide to the 70s 2011
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:21
Pure... Love 2011
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:20
100 Essential Tracks: Love Songs
Various Artists
Sony Music
1972: A Time To Remember The Classic Years
Various Artists
Tabak 3:21
Coronation Street: Magical Memories
Various Artists
Sony Music Entertainment 3:19
De Pre Historie: 1972, Vol. 1
Various Artists
Eva 3:15
Eternal Voices
Various Artists
Telstar TV Records
Flashback Sony Music Entertainment 3:19
No Image
Various Artists
Time/Life Music
Good Morning, Vietnam
Various Artists
Disky
Hifi Visionen Pop, Vol. 4
Various Artists
Hifi Vision 3:16
Mélodies en Or, Vol. 1
Various Artists
Polygram
Rock Ballads: Ultimate Collection
Various Artists
Ultimate
No Image
Various Artists
Universal 3:19
Songs for Lovers [Metro]
Various Artists
Metro
Terry Wogan: The Collection
Various Artists
Rhino 3:18
The Greatest Love [Telstar]
Various Artists
Telstar 3:19
Time to Say Goodbye 2010
Various Artists
Universal Distribution
Top of the Pop Hits: The 70s, Vol. 2: Disc 4
Various Artists
Collectables 3:18
No Image
Various Artists
Collectables 3:19
WCBS FM 101.1: The Anniversary Album - The 70s
Various Artists
Collectables 3:16
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