One (Harry Nilsson song)

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"One Is the Loneliest Number" redirects here. For the novel, see Tom Clancy's Net Force Explorers: One is the Loneliest Number.
Single by Harry Nilsson
from the album Aerial Ballet
B-side "Sister Marie"
Released 1968
Recorded 1967
Genre Chamber pop[1]
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 five on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100[2] and number four in Canada. The song is known for its opening line "One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do". 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 song was covered by Australian pop singer Johnny Farnham, reaching number four on the Go-Set National Top 40 Chart.[3]

One - Three Dog Night.jpg
Single by Three Dog Night
from the album Three Dog Night
B-side "Chest Fever"
Released April 1969
Recorded 1968
Genre Rock, hard rock, blues 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"
"Easy to Be Hard"

Three Dog Night cover[edit]

"One" was released as the second single from Three Dog Night's eponymous first album. It was a major North American hit and became their first of seven gold records over the next five years.

The song reached number five on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and spent three weeks at number two on the Cash Box Top 100.[4] It also reached number four in Canada.

Chart performance[edit]

Other versions[edit]

  • Mike Melvoin released an instrumental cover of "One" on his 1970 album The Plastic Cow Goes Moooooog.
  • The New Seekers released a version on the 1971 album Beautiful People.
  • The Shower Scene from Psycho (Melbourne, Australia) released a celebrated version of this on their 'Exploding Hits' in 1984.
  • 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 covered by the rock band Filter for the soundtrack to the 1998 film The X-Files: Fight the Future. There is also a scene in the movie where Mulder says to a bartender (played by an uncredited Glenne Headly), "You know, one is the loneliest number."
  • Dokken covered the song on their 1999 album Erase the Slate.
  • The Beta Band closed their 2001 album Hot Shots II with "Won", a hip-hop track built around extensive samples of Nilsson's song.
  • The song was sung by Nathan Lane and was featured on the soundtrack Stuart Little 2 in 2002.
  • Alva Noto and Blixa Bargeld, working together for their ANBB project, included a version of this song on their 2010 album Mimikry.
  • In 2013, Tracii Guns' League of Gentlemen covered "One" on the album First Record.
  • Mastodon recorded a cover of the song for the Army of Two trailer.
  • Electric Six covered the song on their cover album Mimicry and Memories (2015).[10]
  • In 2014, the Three Dog Night cover of the song appeared in the teaser trailer for season five of the American crime drama Boardwalk Empire.

In media[edit]

  • This song was also in 17th episode of the third season of the animated comedy series Family Guy called "Brian Wallows and Peter's Swallows".
  • This song was quoted by Robert Barone in an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond.
  • 2001: In Disney's Recess: School's Out, the song is also played.
  • In 2004, the song appears in the third episode of House ("Occam's Razor"). Dr. House references the song's opening line during a discussion with his team, and the song later plays over the episode's last scene.
  • Also in 2004, the song is briefly sung by Donkey in the film Shrek 2.
  • 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, 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 536 of The Simpsons, dated November 24, 2013.
  • 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.
  • In October 2016, an original version recorded by Harry Nilsson was used in Masters of Sex TV series (season four, called "Coats or Keys").
  • In November 2016, the song was featured in the trailer for The Lego Batman Movie.


External links[edit]