Tuesday, February 21, 1995

Joan Osborne “One of Us” released

One of Us

Joan Osborne

Writer(s): Eric Bazilian (see lyrics here)

Released: February 21, 1995

First Charted: September 30, 1995

Peak: 4 US, 3 CB, 3 RR, 19 AC, 16 A40, 16 AA, 26 AR, 7 MR, 6 UK, 11 CN, 15 AU, 3 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 50.9 video, 137.32 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Rick Chertoff, Eric Bazilian, and Rob Hyman became friends while attending the University of Pennsylvania. Chertoff would go on to produce the Kinks, the Alan Parsons Project, and Air Supply for Arista Records before moving to Columbia. There he signed Cyndi Lauper and brought in Bazilian and Hyman as backing musicians for her debut album, 1983’s She’s So Unusual. The exposure helped them launch their band, the Hooters. Their 1985 major-label debut, Nervous Night, was a double-platinum seller fueled by three top-40 hits. It proved to be the band’s commercial peak and by 1993 it looked like they’d released their final album (although they would make a comeback in 2010).

Meanwhile, Rick Chertoff started his Blue Gorilla label at Polygram in 1992. The label released Relish, the 1995 major-label debut for singer/songwriter Joan Osborne. He brought in Bazilian for some songwriting duties, including “One of Us.” Bazilian said, “I wrote that song one night – the quickest song I ever wrote – to impress a girl. Which worked, because we’re married and have two kids.” WK He wrote it in January 1994 when his future wife asked him to record something. He said, “You can’t just sing, you have to write the song, you have to discuss the concept, you have to re-write then decide you were better in the first place.” SF Despite her protests, he obliged and, as he said, “the verses came out in the first pass, the chorus came out in the second pass.” SF

He played it for Rick and Joan the next day and they recorded a demo of her singing it. He said, “When I got into my car and popped the cassette in, I started practicing the Grammy speech that I should've gotten to give.” WK It didn’t win, but was nominated for Song of the Year, Record of the year, and Best Female Pop Vocal.

The song is “a simple, direct statement of faith, honest and unadorned, one framed in a near-perfect chorus and delectable Neil Young-ish guitar riff.” AMG Bazilian said it wasn’t about advocating any specific religious belief. SF It “was more about what happens to you when you look at something that has completely changed your world view, which could be meeting God, it could be meeting an alien, it could be a near-death experience.” SF


First posted 9/6/2022.

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