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)[2]
GenreSoft rock[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 released in 1972 at the same time as, but not included on, the album, Back to Front. In total, the single spent six weeks, non-consecutively, at No. 1 on the United States Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Billboard ranked it as the No. 2 song for 1972. In Casey Kasem's American Top 40 of the 1970s, "Alone Again (Naturally)" ranked as the fifth most-popular song of the decade (Debby Boone's "You Light Up My Life" was No. 1). "Alone Again (Naturally)" also spent six weeks at No. 1 on the Easy Listening chart.[5] The track reached No. 3 in the UK Singles Chart.[6]


"Alone Again (Naturally)" is an introspective ballad. In the first verse, the singer contemplates suicide after having been left "in the lurch at a church"; 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: his mother was alive during its composition; O'Sullivan was 11 when his father, who was cruel to his mother, died, and he's said that he didn't know his father well. [7] O'Sullivan later commented “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”.[8] Neil Sedaka was similarly effusive in his praise for the song, stating as he covered the song in 2020 that he wished that he himself had written the song because its complexity was more typical of a man much older than 21.[9] The song is included on O'Sullivan's The Berry Vest of Gilbert O'Sullivan album (2004) on the EMI record label. Big Jim Sullivan plays the guitar break in the original recorded version of the song.

Chart performance[edit]

Copyright lawsuit[edit]

Grand Upright Music, Ltd v. Warner Bros. Records Inc., 780 F. Supp. 182 (S.D.N.Y. 1991), was a copyright case heard by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. The case pitted singer/songwriter Gilbert O'Sullivan against rapper Biz Markie after Biz Markie sampled O'Sullivan's song "Alone Again (Naturally)". The court ruled that sampling without permission can qualify as copyright infringement. The judgment changed the hip hop music industry, requiring that any future music sampling be preapproved by the original copyright owners to avoid a lawsuit.[26]

Maison Ikkoku[edit]

This song, along with another one of O'Sullivan's songs, "Get Down", were featured as the opening and ending for episode 24 of the Japanese anime hit Maison Ikkoku. At the time, O'Sullivan was signed to production company Kitty Film's associated record label, Kitty Records, which wanted to use the anime's popularity as a way to promote the singer's career in Japan. According to series director Kazuo Yamazaki, the reason the songs were dropped after only one episode was that they were unpopular with viewers; due to copyright issues, they were not included on the English-language American release of the anime, replaced by the previously used Japanese theme songs. The anime was based upon the popular manga of the same name by Rumiko Takahashi.

The song was also used as the ending theme for the 1986 live-action Maison Ikkoku film, Apartment Fantasy.

Notable cover versions[edit]

Many artists have covered the song. Among the more notable are a version by Nina Simone, included as a bonus track on the 1988 digital reissue of her 1982 album Fodder on My Wings; and a version by Lazlo Bane's frontman Chad Fischer, from the 2009 animated film Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. Both versions feature substantially rewritten lyrics; Simone's version savagely exhumes her troubled relationship with her late father, whereas Fischer's version explores the unrequited desire of an acorn for the prehistoric squirrel who once chased it. Also in 2015, Diana Krall released a duet version with Michael Bublé on her album titled "Wallflower".[27]


  1. ^ "Gilbert O'Sullivan - Alone Again (Naturally)". Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  2. ^ "Gilbert O'Sullivan - Alone Again (Naturally)". Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  3. ^ Fontenot, Robert. "Soft Rock Music and Songs". Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  4. ^ Kuge, Mara (7 February 2019). "14 Secretly Cruel Soft Rock Love Songs". Ultimate Classic Rock.
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 187.
  6. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 411. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  7. ^ ""Alone Again (Naturally)" - Gilbert O'Sullivan". 1972-07-29. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  8. ^ Kernan. "'I can still compete with anyone despite being around so long'". Galway Advertiser. Retrieved 26 January 2019. |first2= missing |last2= (help)
  9. ^ "Today's Mini-Concert - 10/22/2020". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-13. Retrieved 22 April 2021.
  10. ^ a b "Australian Chart Book". Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  11. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly - Library and Archives Canada". 17 July 2013. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  12. ^ "Image : RPM Weekly - Library and Archives Canada". 17 July 2013. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  13. ^ "Toutes les Chansons N° 1 des Années 70" (in French). InfoDisc. 1972-07-13. Retrieved 22 December 2019.
  14. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Alone Again (Naturally)". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
  15. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Gilbert O Sullivan" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  16. ^ "Gilbert O'Sullivan – Alone Again (Naturally)" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  17. ^ "flavour of new zealand - search listener". Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  18. ^ "Gilbert O'Sullivan: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 3, 2018.
  19. ^ "Gilbert OSullivan Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved June 3, 2018.
  20. ^ "Gilbert OSullivan Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved June 3, 2018.
  21. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 8/26/72". 1972-08-26. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  22. ^ "Top 100 1972 - UK Music Charts". Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  23. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1972/Top 100 Songs of 1972". Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  24. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles - 1972". 1972-12-30. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  25. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary Interactive Chart". Billboard. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  26. ^ Music Sampling and Copyright Law (PDF), p. 21
  27. ^ Wallflower | track 4

External links[edit]