One Headlight

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"One Headlight"
Single by The Wallflowers
from the album Bringing Down the Horse
B-side "6th Avenue Heartache" (Acoustic)
"Angel on My Bike"
(Live)
Released February 24, 1997
Format CD, 7" vinyl
Recorded 1996
Genre Alternative rock
Length 5:13 (Album Version)
4:38 (Single Version)
Label Interscope
Writer(s) Jakob Dylan
Producer(s) T-Bone Burnett
The Wallflowers singles chronology
"6th Avenue Heartache"
(1996)
"One Headlight"
(1997)
"The Difference"
(1997)

"One Headlight" is a song performed by American band The Wallflowers. The song was written by lead singer Jakob Dylan, and produced by T-Bone Burnett. It was released on February 24, 1997 via Interscope Records, as the second single from the band's 1996 album, Bringing Down the Horse. In 2000, the song was listed at #58 on Rolling Stone and MTVs list of "100 Greatest Pop Songs of All Time".[1]

Composition[edit]

According to some, the lyrics tell a fragmentary story about a former friend and her death, and the singer's emotions in the aftermath. The use of strong words and images and the incomplete story have resulted in many different interpretations of the song, which include suicide, drug abuse, death of a lover, death of one's mother, having breast cancer and/or depression.

However, Jakob Dylan, the lead singer and songwriter of The Wallflowers, has said that the song is about "the death of ideas"[2] and that the many metaphors and images in the lyrics were not meant to be taken literally. Dylan explains that he and the band had very little support when they were putting together the record, hence the shout-out "c'mon try a little." The last two lines of the chorus "we can drive it home / with one headlight" are a reference to how the band were able to get through with their ideas despite being hindered (i.e. with one headlight) by the lack of support.

Reception[edit]

The song won Grammy Awards in 1998 in the categories Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group. It was named "Best Video" for 1996 in a VH1 poll. The song was performed live on the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards with Bruce Springsteen, where the music video was nominated four times, including for "Viewer's Choice". The song would reach number 58 in MTV and Rolling Stone's 2000 list "The 100 Greatest Pop Songs Since the Beatles"[3] and was The Village Voice Pazz & Jop poll's 36th best song of the year.

Awards[edit]

Year Association Category Result
1998 Grammy Awards Best Rock Song Won
Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals Won

Music video[edit]

A music video directed by Joe Perota was shot for the song and premiered in early 1997.[4]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "One Headlight" (Edit) – 4:38
  2. "6th Avenue Heartache" (Acoustic) – 4:57
  3. "Angel on My Bike" (Live) – 4:46

Chart performance[edit]

Although the song did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100 due to the chart rules at the time, the song was a significant radio hit in the US. It spent five weeks at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay chart and a total of 59 weeks on this ranking. It also was the first song to top these three Billboard airplay charts: Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks, Hot Modern Rock Tracks, and Hot Adult Top 40 Tracks.[5]

Charts[edit]

Chart (1997) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[6] 14
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[7] 1
Germany (Media Control Charts)[8] 88
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company) 54
US Billboard Hot 100 Airplay[9] 2
US Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks[10] 1
US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks 1
US Billboard Adult Top 40 1
US Billboard Adult Contemporary 30
US Billboard Mainstream Top 40 2

Succession[edit]

Preceded by
"Blow Up the Outside World" by Soundgarden
Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks number-one single
February 1 – March 1, 1997
Succeeded by
"Falling in Love (Is Hard on the Knees)" by Aerosmith
Preceded by
"You Were Meant for Me" by Jewel
Billboard Adult Top 40 Tracks number-one single
May 24 – June 21, 1997
Succeeded by
"Sunny Came Home" by Shawn Colvin

Cover versions[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]