One (Harry Nilsson song)

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Single by Harry Nilsson
from the album Aerial Ballet
B-side"Sister Marie"
LabelRCA Records
Songwriter(s)Harry Nilsson
Producer(s)Rick Jarrard
Harry Nilsson singles chronology
"Good Old Desk"
"Everybody's Talkin'"

"One" is a song by American singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson from his 1968 album Aerial Ballet. It 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.

A better-known cover version, recorded by Three Dog Night, reached number five on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100[4] in 1969 and number four in Canada. In 1969, the song was also recorded by Australian pop singer Johnny Farnham, reaching number four on the Go-Set National Top 40 Chart.[5]

Three Dog Night version[edit]

Single by Three Dog Night
from the album Three Dog Night
B-side"Chest Fever"
ReleasedApril 1969
Length3:06 (album)
2:55 (single)
Songwriter(s)Harry Nilsson
Producer(s)Gabriel Mekler
Three Dog Night singles chronology
"Try a Little Tenderness"
"Easy to Be Hard"

Three Dog Night released One as the second single from their eponymous first album. It became their first of seven gold records over the next five years.

The original issue of the single version fades out about ten seconds before the final notes heard on the album version. Upon reissues by ABC Records and its successor labels, the label reverted to the album version which is heard on radio today.

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.[8] It also reached number four in Canada.

Chart performance[edit]


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[13] Gold 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Other versions[edit]

Many cover versions have been recorded. Among the most notable are:


  1. ^ "Playlist: Best Harry Nilsson songs for what would be his 75th birthday". June 16, 2016. Retrieved August 20, 2016.
  2. ^ Coleman, Mark; Matos, Michaelangelo (2004). "Harry Nilsson". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 586–587. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  3. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Harry Nilsson – Everybody's Talkin' [BMG]". AllMusic. Retrieved October 9, 2023.
  4. ^ "One (song by Three Dog Night) ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Retrieved August 20, 2016.
  5. ^ Nimmervoll, Ed (September 13, 1969). "National Top 40". Go-Set. Waverley Press. Retrieved May 16, 2014.
  6. ^ Moore, Rick (2017). "Three Dog Night, "One"". American Songwriter. Retrieved October 16, 2022. "Nilsson's 'One' was very melancholy, lacked passion," he said. "It was a song sang to the beat of a busy signal … We turned that into a rock and roll song.
  7. ^ Pitchfork Staff (August 18, 2006). "The 200 Best Songs of the 1960s". Pitchfork. Retrieved October 12, 2022. I grew up on Three Dog Night's R&B bombast so returning to Harry's original I forget how wispy and ethereal this tune could be.
  8. ^ a b "Cash Box Top 100 7/19/69". Archived from the original on July 18, 2013.
  9. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  10. ^ "RPM's Top 100 of 1969". RPM. January 10, 1970.
  11. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1969/Top 100 Songs of 1969".
  12. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles - 1969". Archived from the original on January 25, 2019. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
  13. ^ "American single certifications – Three Dog Night – One". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  14. ^ "Go-Set National Top 40, 11 October 1969".

External links[edit]