As the very last episode of “Breaking Bad” drew to a close last Sunday, legions of the show’s fans took to social media sites to share their thoughts about Walter White’s ultimate fate (don’t worry; no spoilers here).
Others went to iTunes to download the song featured in that last scene: “Baby Blue,” by the British group Badfinger. The song was the band’s last Top 20 hit in the US, and now looks set to enjoy some more chart action — 42 years after its original release in 1971.
Originally from Wales, Badfinger was signed to the Beatles’ Apple Records label in 1968 (where they released an album under the name the Iveys before adopting the name Badfinger). The band had a brief run of power pop-flavored chart hits in the late ‘60s-early ‘70s, including “Come & Get It” from the film “The Magic Christian” (written and produced by Paul McCartney) and “Day After Day.”
The band’s guitarist, Pete Ham, and bassist, Tom Evans, also co-wrote an emotional ballad called “Without You,” originally just another track on Badfinger’s 1970 album “No Dice.” Harry Nilsson turned it into a monster hit in 1971 when he recorded a cover version that became an international chart topper that sold over a million copies. In 1994, Mariah Carey also had a worldwide hit with the song.
“Baby Blue” hasn’t rivaled those sales figures yet. But according to “Billboard” magazine, the track generated 5000 sales on Sunday night alone. It’s now #1 on iTunes’ top songs list, and is expected to enter “Billboard”’s Rock Digital Songs chart this week. Over at Spotify, streams of “Baby Blue” are up 9000%.
The song, written by Ham for a woman he’d met on tour, first appeared on Badfinger’s 1971 album “Straight Up.” It was released as a single the following year, when it reached #14 in the US charts. It was also used in Martin Scorsese’s 2006 film “The Departed.”
Ham’s sad fate wouldn’t have been out of place in the dark world of “Breaking Bad.” Frustrated by the financial problems that plagued Badfinger, Ham hanged himself on April 24, 1975. Eight years later, Evans also hung himself, on November 19, 1983.