One (Harry Nilsson song)

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One Is the Loneliest Number redirects here. The phrase is also the title of a novel from the Tom Clancy's Net Force Explorers series.
Single by Harry Nilsson
from the album Aerial Ballet
B-side "Sister Marie"
Released 1968
Recorded 1967
Label RCA
Writer(s) Harry Nilsson
Producer(s) Rick Jarrard
Harry Nilsson singles chronology
"Good Old Desk"
"Everybody's Talkin'"

"One" is a song written by Harry Nilsson and made famous by Three Dog Night whose cover in 1969 reached number 5 on the Billboard chart. The song is known for its opening line "One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do." It appeared initially on Aerial Ballet (1968), Nilsson's third album. Nilsson wrote the song after calling someone and getting a busy signal. He stayed on the line listening to the "beep, beep, beep, beep..." tone, writing the song. The busy signal became the opening notes of the song.

In 1968, Al Kooper released the song on his debut album I Stand Alone. In 1969, the rock band Three Dog Night covered the song on their debut album Three Dog Night, with Chuck Negron on lead vocal. The song was released as a single and became a hit, reaching number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. That same year it was covered by Australian pop singer Johnny Farnham, reaching number 4 on the Go-Set National Top 40 Chart.[1]

Single by Three Dog Night
from the album Three Dog Night
Released 1969
Recorded 1968
Genre Rock
Length 3:06
Label Dunhill
Writer(s) Harry Nilsson
Producer(s) Gabriel Mekler
Certification Gold
Three Dog Night singles chronology
"Try a Little Tenderness" "One" "Easy to Be Hard"

Later cover versions[edit]

Single by Filter
from the album The X-Files: The Album
Released July 18, 1998
Format CD
Genre Alternative metal
Industrial rock
Label Reprise
Filter singles chronology
"(Can't You) Trip Like I Do"
"Welcome to the Fold"

John Farnham released a version (single) in 1969, which got to No.4 on the Australian charts

The New Seekers released a version on the 1971 album Beautiful People.

In 1992, it was covered by the band Chainsaw Kittens on the single for the song "High in High School".

The song was covered by Aimee Mann for the 1995 Nilsson tribute album For the Love of Harry: Everybody Sings Nilsson. Mann's version also appears in the 1999 film Magnolia and on the film's soundtrack.

In 1995, the song was sung briefly on The Drew Carey Show at the Warsaw Pub between both Carey and his boss, Mr. Bell, in the first season episode "Nature Abhors a Vacuum".

The song was also covered by the rock band Filter for the soundtrack to the 1998 film The X-Files: Fight the Future.

Dokken, a 1978 heavy metal band, also covered the song in their 1999 album Erase the Slate.

Aimee Mann covered the song featuring electric piano instead of the telephone beep.

The Beta Band closed their 2001 album Hot Shots II with "Won", a hip-hop track built around extensive samples of Nilsson's song.

Mastodon recorded a cover of the song for the Army of Two trailer.

Alva Noto and Blixa Bargeld, as ANBB, covered "One" in their album Mimikry.

The Muppets and Jimmy Fallon performed an impromptu rendition of the song on the set of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon while rehearsing for the 2009 Christmas performance.

In 2013, Tracii Guns' League of Gentlemen covered "One" on the album First Record.

In 2013, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic created a video using "One" to promote their US Open final match.

In 2013, Lisa Simpson sang the song at the beginning of Episode 553 of The Simpsons, dated November 24, 2013.

Use in advertising[edit]

The Three Dog Night version of "One" was used in a winter of 2012-13 ad campaign for Ahold's Stop & Shop, Giant of Landover, Giant of Carlisle and Martin's Supermarket chains.

In July 2014, a version recorded by Order of Era (a collaboration between bands, Civil Civic and Hunting) was used in a LYNX-AXE deodorant television advertisement.


  1. ^ Nimmervoll, Ed (13 September 1969). "National Top 40". Go-Set. Waverley Press. Retrieved 16 May 2014.