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Without You: Badfinger

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LC   

I've never been a huge Badfinger fan, but man, they had some great songs, "Without You" being one of 'em:

Of course, not being "into" Badfinger while growing up, I heard Harry Nilsson's version and thought that was "it" --- only to discover later that the original is more raw, urgent, and brilliant....

(Of course, how many kids of the '90s know only Mariah Carey's version?)

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LC said:

Of course, how many kids of the '90s know only Mariah Carey's version?)

Probably the same ones that think Celine Dion did the original of All By Myself

I agree with you Poptopian. For me it will always be Harry Nillson.

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I'm with Billy. I love every single thing about Badfinger's version. To me, this was as close to The Beatles as we were ever going to get. The organ figure in the out chorus alone is worth the whole record. I read somewhere it was Pete's verse and Tommy's chorus and they just put 'em together. Perfect, beautiful, haunting. I haven't looked at the credits in a while, but this must have been engineered by Geoff Emerick. The guitars are great. The drumming, spot on. the harmonies, Tommy Evans screaming in the fade, all perfect.

ec

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As legend/lore go, John Lennon and Harry Nillson were laying around one nite(drunk) and playing a whole bunch of records...The next day, Nilsson asked Lennon what was that song of his that they had played the previous nite...Nilsson had mistakenly taken it("Without You") for a Lennon tune...Awhile later, Badfinger was in the recording studio and a knock comes on the door and its Nilsson...After introductions, he takes them into a nearby control room where HE was recording and plays them his newly recorded/arranged version of "Without You"...The "Finger" was floored...Evans had always considered it a throwaway track...Years later, royalties from that song were one of the cited factors mentioned as a reason for Evans taking his own life...BadfingerBarb(wherever he is) can probably confirm/deny/clarify/elaborate on these points...But Eric, your right...Evans, impassioned screaming at the end of the fadeout is quite chilling, especially through a good pair of headphones...To me, it is comparable to IYCCYM and your wailing or Lennon's fadeout on "Mother"...And the organ is as poignant/hypnotic as that in the more celebrated "Whiter Shade Of Pale" by Procol Harum...

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LC   

Good stuff, Lew.... (no mention of Wendy, though?)

It's interesting to consider that an artist's "throwaway" tracks are sometimes the strongest! I've read that John Lennon thought of songs like "Glass Onion" and "Across the Universe" as throwaways, but... he had set his own bar pretty high....

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The "Without You" royalties had nothing to do with Tommy's suicide. The band had decided in the beginning (when they were The Iveys) to share in all the songwriting royalties where the composer got half the royalties and the other half was divided amongst the 4 members and their personal manager. While the Badfinger Apple royalties were tied up in escrow, Tommy had ASCAP bypass the band's accounting so that he and the Ham estate received the full royalties on "Without You", ignoring the agreement. So Tommy was actually receiving full royalties at the time of his death. The other band members didn't learn of this until after Tommy died. At the time of Tommy's death, he was being sued by an agent in the US and was depressed about that and was desperate to get the Apple royalties out of escrow. The Ham estate were the ones that held that up for years as they wanted to void all of the band's original agreements.

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LC   

What a mess. Music and money.... Thanks, Barb. I've been rediscovering my Badfinger CDs lately --- they go well with Raspberries and Beatles.

Another cool song:

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I thought someone would use the obvious

"Without Lew"

I had never heard the Badfinger version, until it was mentioned it here on an earlier thread, My Favorite

Nilsson's is too over the top for me.

Although, it is powerful to have a grown man weeping at your feet.....

I do try to keep it to a minimum.

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This is crazy talk...Nilsson's version is of course the definitive version. Nilsson was as fine a vocalist at that time that you could find...I love the Badfinger version of course...but Harry's version tops it. The song is about a person not wanting to live without another person...the song has anguish written right into it...no one has ever or ever will sing that song better. IMO.

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LC   

Hollies65,

"Crazy talk? Wow.... Well, I don't think it's crazy to prefer either version of "Without You," really. Clearly, Badfinger's original has more power, edge, and sheer honesty. Eric's post on p. 1 of this thread says it all.

Nilsson's version is a great ballad, but as Bessie points out, it's a bit over the top. The "grown man weeping at your feet" nails Nilsson's version perfectly.... Nice, Bessie!

PS: H65, Knowing a little about your taste in music, I'm actually a little surprised you prefer Nilsson's "Without You" --- not that there's anything wrong with that. As I said, I loved the song as a kid, but when I heard Badfinger's version, it struck me as clearly superior.... As always, it's just a matter of opinion....

.

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Ha! Yes...I buck the trend on this song...and yes I am a HUGE Badfinger fan. However my opinion [Which yes, goes against Eric's take] Is simply that Nilsson's version is perfect...and better fitted to the song than even a great groups original version. Nilsson's voice is such a great instrument of melancholy ['Everybody's Talkin', 'The Lord Must Me In New York City',etc.] That a better and more pained reading of the lyric in just not possible ...IMO. BTW the "Crazy Talk" is just part of my vocabulary...I did not mean literal "Crazy talk".

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hollies65 said:

Ha! Yes...I buck the trend on this song...and yes I am a HUGE Badfinger fan. However my opinion [Which yes, goes against Eric's take] Is simply that Nilsson's version is perfect...and better fitted to the song than even a great groups original version.

I agree 100%

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marvin   

Heart's early albums, especially the first one, "Magazine" and "Little Queen", were pretty strong, in my opinion. A real neat combination of styles.

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Coming in late on this....sorry....

I am torn on this, since I have had the pleasure to back Joey almost a dozen times over the last four years. I think Nilsson commercialized it into the #1 hit is was...he made the feeling of loss more dramatic and effective. But I'm with Eric...Badfinger's version is better for me, personally.

Joey usually introduces the song as "kinda bluesy" before counting it off. He always tells the story of how they needed one more song to complete the No Dice LP.

Under manager Bill Collins' advice - 'Peter had a couple o' verses, Tommy had a chorus...Bill told them to try putting them together. I added a little solo, and it shows the kind of magic that can happen in the studio when you work together as a team'.

The song itself, as written, is just perfect. And I'm the one who gets to do the organ motif at the end! I get shivers every time!

Also, I'm proud to be on stage with Joey, when he gives full credit to Pete Ham "who wrote most of the hits', and credit to Tommy for 'Without You' and his half of 'Money/Flying'.

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LC   

Paul, great stuff, thanks! And that must be a real kick to play in concert there....

(PS: I wrote you a PM a while back about my early years in Syracuse, NY, but it bounced back. I'll try to find it and re-send....)

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What a wonderful post Paul!

I have always been a Badfinger fan. The first song I heard from them was No Matter What. It is still on one of my very favorites along with Baby Blue, and Day After Day.

While I prefer both versions of Without You, I do have give the edge to Badfinger. That's just my opinion! Neither right or wrong.

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LC   

 

 

I've been seeing Lew post about his high regard for Badfinger. It's interesting that arguably their most widely known song was made famous by someone else. So I looked for this old thread and found it—I think the "which version" question about "Without You" is one of those music discussions where there's no right answer. It's been often covered—there are versions by Heart, Glen Campbell, Engelbert Humperdinck (not bad!), Air Supply, Kelly Clarkson, and others. But these three are the most famous, and always worth the 14 minutes to soak in.

 

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LC   

Yep, with both Billy Sullivan and  Eric himself weighing in with the same opinion.

A year after this thread, Tim in Wisc. put up a similar thread, and Eric wrote an amazingly similar opinion, arguing the point with one misguided know-it-all who said Harry outdid Badfinger:

 

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Since I heard Harry's version first, and LOVED it, I could never learn to like the Badfinger version. It's so off pitch as compared to Nillson's that it almost makes me cringe. Had I never heard HN's version, I wonder what I'd think of the original.

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LC   

Interesting. I like the earthy, honest B-finger version. But it's not like I don't love Harry's version too. To me, they're A++ and A+. 

 

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James   

Lew got me to delve into buying Bad Finger music. They have/had such a great sound and vibe. I will buy more of their stuff. 

James

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