♫ Alone Again (Naturally) ♫

Everyone seemed to enjoy Beatles week … enough so that I hope to do another week-long tribute again soon.  The challenge, of course, is finding the artist who has at least six songs that I really like and that I think you’ll like, too.  I have one suggestion that I think will work well … no, I’m not going to tell you … it’ll be a surprise.

Tonight’s song has been dubbed “one of the most depressing songs ever written”.  Despite that, it is one of the top five on my playlist for when I am walking … it causes me to pick up my pace, for some reason.  I guess it suits my mood of the moment.  This was Irish singer Gilbert O’Sullivan’s only U.S. #1. It sold 2 million copies, spent six weeks at the summit in the U.S., and earned him three Grammy Award nominations (Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, Song of the Year, and Record of the Year). It was the second best-selling single of the year in America behind Don McLean’s American Pie, which I played two nights ago.

According to O’Sullivan …

“Everyone wants to know if it’s an autobiographical song, based on my father’s early death. Well, the fact of the matter is, I didn’t know my father very well, and he wasn’t a good father anyway. He didn’t treat my mother very well.”

In the first half of the ’70s O’Sullivan enjoyed a succession of hits in the UK, including two #1s that show his considerable range as a songwriter. The first was “Clair,” inspired by Clair Mills, the 3-year-old daughter of his manager Gordon Mills, whom O’Sullivan baby-sat. The second was “Get Down,” which is a plea to his dog to get down off the furniture. O’Sullivan was the first Irish recording artist with two UK #1 hits.

At the end of the 1980s this was used as the opening theme song and “Get Down” the closing theme song of Masion Ikkoku, a Japanese animated series. They were used without authorization, which caused some controversy at the time. However the net result was that a new Japanese generation discovered Gilbert’s music and his popularity grew in Japan. Some of his 1990s albums have only been released in Japan, where he has continued to enjoy some success.

In 1982 O’Sullivan took his former manager Gordon Mills to court over his original contract, ultimately winning back the master tapes to his recordings as well as the copyrights to his songs. Nine years later in 1991, O’Sullivan went to court again to sue the rapper Biz Markie, who used an unauthorized sample from this song in his track Alone Again, which appeared on Markie’s third album, I Need A Haircut. The judge made a landmark ruling in O’Sullivan’s favor that the rapper’s unauthorized sample was in fact theft. From this point on, artists had to clear samples or be subject to costly lawsuits.

O’Sullivan talked about the case in 2010 at a screening for the movie Out On His Own: Gilbert O’Sullivan. He said Biz Markie’s record company approached him about sampling the song, and O’Sullivan asked to hear it before granting permission.

“Then we discovered that he was a comic rapper,” said Gilbert. “And the one thing I am very guarded about is protecting songs and in particular I’ll go to my grave in defending the song to make sure it is never used in the comic scenario which is offensive to those people who bought it for the right reasons. And so therefore we refused. But being the kind of people that they were, they decided to use it anyway so we had to go to court.”

Alone Again (Naturally)
Gilbert O’Sullivan

In a little while from now
If I’m not feeling any less sour
I promise myself to treat myself
And visit a nearby tower
And climbing to the top will throw myself off
In an effort to make it clear to whoever
What it’s like when you’re shattered
Left standing in the lurch at a church
Where people saying: “My God, that’s tough”
“She stood him up”
“No point in us remaining”
“We may as well go home”
As I did on my own
Alone again, naturally

To think that only yesterday
I was cheerful, bright and gay
Looking forward to who wouldn’t do
The role I was about to play?
But as if to knock me down
Reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch
Cut me into little pieces
Leaving me to doubt
Talk about God in His mercy
Who if He really does exist
Why did He desert me?
In my hour of need
I truly am indeed
Alone again, naturally

It seems to me that there are more hearts
Broken in the world that can’t be mended
Left unattended
What do we do? What do we do?

Alone again, naturally

Looking back over the years
And whatever else that appears
I remember I cried when my father died
Never wishing to hide the tears
And at sixty-five years old
My mother, God rest her soul
Couldn’t understand why the only man
She had ever loved had been taken
Leaving her to start with a heart so badly broken
Despite encouragement from me
No words were ever spoken
And when she passed away
I cried and cried all day
Alone again, naturally
Alone again, naturally

Songwriters: O’sullivan
Alone Again (Naturally) lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, BMG Rights Management

26 thoughts on “♫ Alone Again (Naturally) ♫

  1. 8the grade! Little Rock Arkansas. I loved Gilbert O’Sullivan’s song. Claire is so sweet but this one is my favorite for more than a few reasons. The poignant honesty of the words, the fluidity of the song as a poem and the melody are just wonderful. I didn’t find it depressing but uplifting That in reality I was not alone at all. Someone understood pain. Thanks Jill.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. No doubt, YOU will be surprised to discover that I cannot add any additional information about this song! I can, however, tell you a tragic story which is forever attached to this song. First, just to add a bit of background for clarity’s sake, let me to tell you that I do recall this song’s popularity upon its release. Yes, the music and Gilbert’s voice are beautiful but I found the lyrics depressing and never purchased the single. Now then, moving to the mid 70’s when a very dear friend of mine from my high school days, a Vietnam veteran by the way, had finally convinced his longtime girlfriend to marry him. A huge church wedding planned by he and she was scheduled to take place in May of 1975. As neither of them had young nephews or nieces, my young Son was asked to be the ring bearer whilst the daughter of one her friends was to be the flower girl. It was a beautiful day, I so remember thinking that it was the perfect day for a wedding as my tuxedo clad pillow carrying Son and I arrived at the church. Everything inside the church was perfect too, from the flowers to the groomsmen and bridesmaids in their finery. Friends of both were already being seated and the first strains of music from the organ could be heard. My Son and I had gone back to greet the nervous groom and to wish him well before going to the vestibule to wait with the flower girl and some of the bridesmaids for the other important member of this wedding. Only two people were missing…his bride and his best man. They remained missing, they never showed up, they never told anyone beforehand that they were going to do this. The wedding reception was to be in the church hall. The gifts were there and the food was being prepared for serving though nothing was taking place in the church. My friend soon enough realized what had taken place. He tearfully and bravely stood at the alter and told those assembled that there would not be a wedding today, but that all were invited to go to the hall for the dinner. Some did, many did not…it had taken on a funeral-like feeling and I suppose many simply wanted to escape. I went back to my friend not able to hold back my tears of sorrow for him, hugged him and expressed my support should he need it in the coming days. There were only a few of us around him when he said : “Alone again, naturally.” At that moment, I did not think of this song nor do I think did anyone else standing there. I thought he was referring to the death of his parents in a car accident whilst he was in Vietnam leaving him, an only child of two only children, and now without a bride alone again. It was many weeks later when he told me that as he was waiting and praying for her to appear he had suddenly thought of this song! I so wish that I could end this on a happily ever note of his finding his soulmate, sadly I cannot. He died a little more than a year and a half later after being hit by a drunk driver whilst jogging on a roadside track near his home. So, whilst as you say, the lyrics were not true of O’Sullivan’s life, they sadly proved mostly true for my friend. That said, I never hear this song without thinking of him too! Thank-you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was SHOCKED that you had no additional info on either the song or artist, and then … you didn’t warn me to get my box of tissues … that is such a sad story!!! By the time I got to the end, I was wiping tears with the sleeve of my t-shirt. 😥 However, thank you for sharing it with us. 😥


  3. Sorry, Jill, but I have to question your claim of GOS being the first Irish singer with two #1 UK hits. I’m only guessing, because I cannot find any ratings, but I would look into Van Morrison, first as the lead singer for “Them” and then later as a solo artist with a very very long solo career. Them were around with the Beatles, Stones, Yardbirds, Animals, etc. but they had some top-notch songs with Baby Please Don’t Go, Mystic Eyes, and GLORIA, and Van started his solo career with the huge hit Brown-Eyed Girl.
    Loved this song by GOS. Nice to hear it again.

    Liked by 1 person

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