Alone Again (Naturally)

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"Alone Again (Naturally)"
Alone Again single.jpg
Single by Gilbert O'Sullivan
B-side"Save It"
Released18 February 1972 (UK)[1]
May 1972 (US)[1]
GenreSoft rock[2][3][4]
Songwriter(s)Gilbert O'Sullivan
Producer(s)Gordon Mills
Gilbert O'Sullivan singles chronology
"No Matter How I Try"
"Alone Again (Naturally)"

"Alone Again (Naturally)" is a song by Irish singer-songwriter Gilbert O'Sullivan. It was recorded in 1972 at the same time as his album Back to Front and was a worldwide hit.

The single spent six non-consecutive weeks at number one on Billboard's Hot 100 between late July and early September 1972 in America. It ranked number two in the year-end chart (behind Roberta Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face") and sold more than two million copies.[5]

The song was involved in a 1991 court case which held that sampling of music can constitute copyright infringement.


"Alone Again (Naturally)" is a melancholy, introspective ballad. In the first verse, the singer contemplates suicide after having been left at the altar; in the second, he wonders if there is a God; finally, he laments the death of his parents. O'Sullivan has said the song is not autobiographical: for example, his mother was alive during its composition, and he was not close to his father, who was cruel to his mother and died when the singer was 11 years old.[6]


The song received extensive radio airplay in the months after its release, and was critically praised. O'Sullivan commented that “Neil Diamond covered 'Alone Again (Naturally)' and said he couldn't believe a 21-year-old wrote it, but for me it was just one song I had written.”[7] Neil Sedaka stating when he covered the song in 2020 that he wished that he himself had written the song, because its complexity was more typical of someone much older than 21.[8]

Chart performance[edit]

Between late July and early September 1972 in America the single spent six non-consecutive weeks at number one on Billboard's Hot 100 – interrupted by Three Dog Night's "Black and White" – and ranked no. 2 in the year-end chart (behind Roberta Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face"). Both O'Sullivan's and Flack's singles spent six weeks at number one, 11 weeks in the Top Ten, 15 weeks in the Top 40 and 18 weeks on the Hot 100. In a decade-end survey as counted down on syndicated radio show Casey Kasem's American Top 40, using Billboard statistics, "Alone Again (Naturally)" ranked five, with Debby Boone's "You Light Up My Life" at number one. It also spent six weeks at number one on Billboard's Easy Listening chart.[9] In April 1972 "Alone Again" peaked at no. 3 on the UK singles chart.[10]

Copyright lawsuit[edit]

Grand Upright Music, Ltd v. Warner Bros. Records Inc. was a copyright case heard in 1991 by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. The case pitted O'Sullivan against Biz Markie after the rapper sampled O'Sullivan's song "Alone Again (Naturally)". The court ruled that sampling without permission can be copyright infringement. The judgment changed the hip hop music industry, requiring that music sampling be preapproved by the original copyright owners to avoid a lawsuit.[27]

Notable cover versions[edit]

Several artists have covered the song.


  1. ^ a b "Gilbert O'Sullivan - Alone Again (Naturally)". Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  2. ^ Fontenot, Robert. "Soft Rock Music and Songs". Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  3. ^ Kuge, Mara (7 February 2019). "14 Secretly Cruel Soft Rock Love Songs". Ultimate Classic Rock.
  4. ^ "Soft rock - The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2022-11-18.
  5. ^ '"Alone Again Naturally" by Gilbert O'Sullivan'. Song Facts (undated), accessed 27 November 2022
  6. ^ ""Alone Again (Naturally)" - Gilbert O'Sullivan". 1972-07-29. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  7. ^ Kernan; Andrews. "'I can still compete with anyone despite being around so long'". Galway Advertiser. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  8. ^ "Today's Mini-Concert - 10/22/2020". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-13. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  9. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 187.
  10. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 411. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  11. ^ a b "Australian Chart Book". Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  12. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly - Library and Archives Canada". 17 July 2013. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  13. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly - Library and Archives Canada". 17 July 2013. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  14. ^ "Toutes les Chansons N° 1 des Années 70" (in French). InfoDisc. 1972-07-13. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
  15. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Alone Again (Naturally)". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
  16. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Gilbert O Sullivan" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  17. ^ "Gilbert O'Sullivan – Alone Again (Naturally)" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  18. ^ "flavour of new zealand - search listener". Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  19. ^ "Gilbert O'Sullivan: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 3, 2018.
  20. ^ "Gilbert OSullivan Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved June 3, 2018.
  21. ^ "Gilbert OSullivan Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved June 3, 2018.
  22. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 8/26/72". 1972-08-26. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  23. ^ "Top 100 1972 - UK Music Charts". Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  24. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1972/Top 100 Songs of 1972". Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  25. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles - 1972". 1972-12-30. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  26. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary Interactive Chart". Billboard. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  27. ^ Music Sampling and Copyright Law (PDF), p. 21
  28. ^ Alone Again, Naturally - Vulfmon (feat. Monica Martin), retrieved 2022-06-20

External links[edit]