Friday, July 21, 1972

Gilbert O’Sullivan “Alone Again (Naturally)” hit #1

Alone Again (Naturally)

Gilbert O’Sullivan

Writer(s): Gilbert O’Sullivan (see lyrics here)

Released: February 18, 1972

First Charted: March 4, 1972

Peak: 16 BB, 13 CB, 12 GR, 14 HR, 16 AC, 3 UK, 13 CN, 2 AU, 6 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 3.0 radio, 99.35 video, 160.25 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Raymond O’Sullivan was born in Ireland. His father died when he was 11. Two years later, his family moved to Swindon, England. O’Sullivan started playing music while an art student in the 1960s. Influenced by the Beatles and Cole Porter, FB he started writing songs. When he was 22, he would write in the evenings after his daytime job as a postal clerk in London. SF He was managed by Gordon Mills, who also managed Tom Jones and Englbert Humperdinck. It was Mills who urged the singer to change his name to Gilbert O’Sullivan as a play on the theater composers Gilbert and Sullivan. SG

When Mills took on O’Sullivan, it allowed the singer to quit his job, move into a bungalow, and write every day. That’s when he wrote and produced his biggest hit, “Alone Again (Naturally),” “the first ever British chart-topper to open with the promise of suicide.” DT He sings “about heartbreak — not from lived experience, but from coming up with the saddest, most melodramatic situations that he can imagine.” SG

He insisted it wasn’t autobiographical, which may explain how he “doesn’t sound even remotely broken when he’s singing about being broken.” SG The singer is jilted at the altar, “calmly announces that he’s about to throw himself off of a tower…questions the existence of God, sings about the deaths of his parents, and considers the ways that grief can absolutely destroy people.” SG Musically “it’s an amiable and low-key amble, all fluttery acoustic guitars and woodwind tootles and soft string-swirls. It’s dentist’s-office music” SG “that could’ve been used to advertise laundry detergent.” SG

The song was nominated for Grammys for Song and Record of the Year as well as Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. It was the second best-selling single of the year after Don McLean’s “American Pie.” In 1991, Biz Markie was sued for sampling the song. DT It was a landmark case in setting a precedent tat artists had to clear samples to avoid being sued. SF The song has been recorded by more than a hundred artists including Neil Diamond, Johnny Mathis, Pet Shop Boys, and Sarah Vaughan. SF


First posted 9/23/2023.

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