What is Harry Nilsson's most successful song

Nilsson with “Without You” in the song stories 314

Harry Nilsson ranks number 1 in the US charts with his version of “Without You”. Did you know that his version of the song is a cover version, just like Mariah Carey's version? The original was sung by the band Bandfinger, who didn't even release this song as a single.

Mariah Carey, Nilsson and Badfinger and the song "Without You"

February 19, 1972, Mariah Carey was not even two years old when Harry Nilsson was number 1 on the US charts with “Without You”.
March 27, 1970, Mariah Carey was born in Huntington, Long Island, New York, USA.


"The killer song of all time", Paul McCartney described the song "Without You", "I get goosebumps when I think that both songwriters have committed suicide." The former Beatle was a fan and great supporter of the band Badfinger, who recorded the original of this song. It wasn't the band's biggest hit, because "Come And Get It", Day After Day "or" No Matter What "were significantly more successful as singles. For the two songwriters, Peter Ham and Tom Evens von Badfinger and their heirs, “Without You” is guaranteed to be the most successful of their songs from a financial point of view.


The British music magazine named “Without You”, interpreted by Harry Nilsson, as the record of the year 1972. In the version by Mariah Carey, this song was the most successful of her career in Europe. It was number 1 in the charts in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Great Britain in 1994. With “Without You” she even surpassed the successes of “Dreamlover” and “Hero”, which can also be found on “Music Box”, the singer's most successful album. This version is definitely the vocal strongest of all cover versions. It shows the incredible singing talent of the pop diva, who is a super star in the United States and is viewed with mixed feelings in Germany. One thing is certain, however: Mariah Carey can sing. Certainly Paul McCartney got goosebumps again with this version.

The versions by Mariah Cary and Nilsson are the most successful covers of this ballad about the pain of farewell and separation. A refrain “I can't live if life takes place without you” is hard to beat in terms of drama. There are many other great voices worth listening to, such as Katie Melua, Air Supply or Chris de Burgh.

The genesis of the song is quite unusual, because it was not created in a joint session between Pete Ham and Tom Evans like many other of their songs, but Peter Ham had a strong lyrics for his song "If It's Love" and Tom Evans was working on it Verses for his chorus "I Can't Live, If Living Is Without You". When the two played the songs they had just started, she knew immediately that the respective partner had already written the remainder of the song.

It is not known why Badfinger never released this song as a single. However, the title of this song also became the title of the tragic story of the band that Dan Matovina released in Great Britain in 1997. If you are looking for the Badfinger song, you will find it on the album "No Dice" from 1970.

Harry Nilsson heard "Without You" in 1971 at a popular party in Laurel Canyon, one of the popular celebrity neighborhoods in Los Angeles. He was immediately certain that it had to be a Beatles song. When he asked Apple Records the following day, they had to disappoint the singer, on the one hand, because the song was not by the Beatles, but on the other hand they were able to help him, after all, Badfinger was under contract with the Beatles' record company at the time.

The producer of the Nilsson version reports on the recordings for the song. The singer initially only recorded this song with piano accompaniment. It sounded gloomy and probably a little monotonous. It took long discussions between producer Richard Perry and interpreter Harry Nilsson until the song finally developed into a great ballad. “I really had to force Harry,” Richard Perry said in an interview with Mojo Magazine, “to give the song a pinch of rhythm. While we were taking this step, I heard Harry say to the studio musicians: 'This song is terrible!' "

Either way, it was terribly successful. A world hit that was at the top of the charts all over the world. In 1973 Harry Nilsson received a Grammy for "best pop singing".

"Without You" by Mariah Carey was released on January 15, 1994. This is the day Harry Nilsson's heart stopped beating forever. The common song rose again to the top of numerous hit parades all over the world.