First Hit #1: February 19, 1972
Today, Without You has become one of the default “look at me, I can SING!” songs, the ones favored by contestants to show off their command (or lack thereof) of their vocal range. Part of the reason is the commanding chorus, which has been increasingly over-sung as more people have covered the song. So, it’s refreshing to go back to the source and hear the song in its original form.
While everyone remembers the chorus, it’s the verses, about the pain and anguish of the singer as he contemplates life without the lover who has just left him. The chorus is still soaring, but it’s laced with the pain that many of the showy performances neglect to include. It’s also a lot more grounded, as the song has a simple arrangement outside of that big moment everyone remembers. It’s important for a song to have good bones, a base on which to build that can survive with all the extra tinsel stripped away. Without You, in original Nilsson flavor, has great bones, and that’s why the song has remained solid even with all the overblown attempts to kill it.