Wednesday, March 9, 2011

We're still wild about Harry

We miss Harry Nilsson. About this time in 1972 he was sitting atop the Billboard chart with "Without You," a song we previously mentioned here in a posting about Badfinger and the tragic deaths of Pete Ham and Tom Evans.

Ham and Evans collaborated on "Without You," piecing together fragments of two unfinished songs and producing a knockout cut for their album No Dice.  As the story goes, when Nilsson first heard "Without You" he thought it was something by his pals the Beatles. He had to record it, and so he did. And the following March at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville he received his second Grammy award. (His first came three years earlier for the Fred Neil penned "Everybody's Talkin'.")

It would be futile to argue over which version might be best. Both Ham and Nilsson delivered heart-wrenching vocals for the grim weeper.  (Dozens of others have tackled "Without You," most notably Mariah Carey, who had a No. 1 in the UK with it. Kelly Clarkson covered it on American Idol, as did Leona Lewis on X Factor.  It's that kind of song.)

But it was Nilsson's cover that spent a glorious four weeks at No. 1 in 1972, a year that started out amazingly strong with these consecutive chart toppers:

Jan. 15, American Pie, Don McLean
Feb. 12, Let's Stay Together, Al Green
Feb. 19, Without You, Nilsson
March 18, Heart of Gold, Neil Young

To hear Nilsson's treatment of "Without You" click on this link and be amazed:


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