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The Most Depressing Song Of All Time…

13 January 2016 Blog Radio Blaa Blaa


Over the course of a year I’ve been writing about the 100 most depressing love songs of all time, so if you haven’t killed yourself by now or maybe want that suicidal three minute tune to set you running for the nearest noose then you might want to read the following.

‘Without You’, a song made famous by Harry Nilsson, strangled by Maria Carey and murdered for good measure by Celine Dion is without doubt the saddest song devoted to love in the history of music.

Over the top?  …. Read on.

The song was originally recorded by English group Badfinger, made up of Pete Ham, Ron Griffiths, Mike Gibbins and Tom Evans. The song was first released off their 1970 album ‘No Dice’ (the tune has since go onto be recorded by almost 200 artists). The group’s main songwriters Evans & Ham created the hit, both from previous relationships that had broken down. Ham’s verse was ‘warm, sweet and sentimental, whilst Evans chorus ‘intense, dramatic and heartbreaking’, (Paul McCartney would later remark it was ‘the killer song of all time’). However the group never released ‘Without You’ in Europe or America, using it as a filler on Side A of ‘No Dice’ (it belatedly was released to a tepid response in Japan)

American songwriter Harry Nilsson came across ‘Without You’ at a party, mistaking it for a Beatles tune – allegedly being quoted ‘They sure know how to pick a tune’ before recording it himself. The song was an immediate hit, topping the charts in America for four weeks and spending a further five ironically in the UK. Though the song won Ham & Evans an Ivor Novello award for ‘Song of the year’, that’s about as good as it got for the group and things soon took a turn for the worse.

There have been a multitude of good (and awful) love songs released since the charts started in the early fifties. If it’s not Roy Orbison’s ‘Crying’ or Bette Midler’s ‘Wind beneath My Wings’ – a song that makes me want to take every medication in my cabinet to block it out – it’s probably the love sick lothario Phil Collins ‘Against All Odds’ ‘One More Night’ ‘Everyday’ ‘Groovy Kind of Love’ or indie group Mayday Parade who’s song ‘Terrible Things’ tells the story of life, love and dying 2 hours after you’ve been married!

For heartache though, nobody does ‘I’m gonna get down to the saloon and drinking myself to death’– like Country. From Dolly Parton’s ‘I will always Love You’ to George  Jones excellent but awfully sad ‘If Drink Don’t Kill Me Her Memory Will’

Love songs aren’t  just for humans. Michael Jackson wrote ‘Ben’ in 1972 …a love song for a rat! Sorry MJ, I can’t cuddle up to something that is essentially vermin.

Heart’s ‘All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You – where Ms. Wilson picks up a tramp on the side of the road and brings him to a hotel so she can have a baby.

Sorry but that’s male rape in my book.

However all pale into insignificance when put toe to toe with English group ‘Badfinger’ who’s song ‘Without You’, made famous by Harry Nilsson tells the true life tragedy which marks it as my top choice.

Those of a nervous disposition (or suicidal should stop reading now)

Badfinger were made up of Pete Ham, Ron Griffiths, Mike Gibbins and Tom Evans. The song was first released off their 1970 album ‘No Dice’ (the tune has since go onto be recorded by almost 200 artists). The group’s main songwriters Evans & Ham created the hit, both from previous relationships that had broken down. Ham’s verse was warm, sweet and sentimental, whilst Evans chorus intense, dramatic and heartbreaking, (Paul McCartney would later remark it was ‘the killer song of all time’). However the group never released ‘Without You’ in Europe or America, using it as filler on Side A of ‘No Dice’ (it belatedly was released to a tepid response in Japan)

American songwriter Harry Nilsson came across ‘Without You’ at a party, mistaking it for a Beatles tune – allegedly being quoted ‘They sure know how to pick a tune’ before recording it himself. The song was an immediate hit, topping the charts in America for four weeks and spending a further five ironically in the UK. Though the song won Ham & Evans an Ivor Novello award for ‘Song of the year’, that’s about as good as it got for the group and things soon took a turn for the worse.

The group at the time were managed by an American business man called Stan Polley, who immediately signed the band to various contracts and dictated all earnings from tours, royalties and personal appearances would go into ‘Badfinger Enterprises’ however the group over time would be ripped-off by Polley’s dubious financial activities.

The group continued to have moderate success in the UK & US, were they were constantly reminded of Nilsson no.1 million-selling version.

Ripped off by Polley, and later by Warner Bros., were the group lost almost everything in legal disputes, guitarist and songwriter Pete Ham hung himself in his garage in April 1975, leaving behind a suicide note blaming their former manager Polley for everything. That night he had drank ten whiskey’s with his best friend and fellow band member Tom Evans before going home to take his life.

He was just 27 years old.

The repercussions of the act would never leave Evans.

The group disbanded for a number of years before a reunion in 1983. Times had changed and the bands following had dwindled.

On the night of November 18th 1983, after a heated argument with fellow band-members over a phone call, Tom Evans hung himself in the garden of his home. The royalties of the biggest hit the never had ‘Without You’ would pass to fellow Badfinger members, Gibbins and Griffiths, much to the anger of both Pete Ham’s and Tom Evans’ families.

For my money – the most depressing love song of all time.


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Comments

  1. Frank   On   January 18, 2016 at 12:46 PM

    The Hungarian song covered by Billie Holliday "Gloomy Sunday" fond playing at the site of many souicides. But for me the abject despair of Nina Simones "Strange Fruit" or for the fickleness of the heart "I love you Porgy" again the beautiful Miss Simone. Listen carefully with caution. Sweargen…


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