One (Harry Nilsson song)

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Single by Harry Nilsson
from the album Aerial Ballet
B-side"Sister Marie"
GenreChamber pop[1]
LabelRCA Records
Songwriter(s)Harry Nilsson
Producer(s)Rick Jarrard
Harry Nilsson singles chronology
"Good Old Desk"
"Everybody's Talkin'"

"One" is a song written and recorded by Harry Nilsson and made famous by Three Dog Night whose recording reached number five on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100[2] in 1969 and number four in Canada. 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.

In 1968, Al Kooper released the song on his debut album I Stand Alone. In 1969, it was recorded by Australian pop singer Johnny Farnham, reaching number four on the Go-Set National Top 40 Chart.[3]

Three Dog Night version[edit]

One - Three Dog Night.jpg
Single by Three Dog Night
from the album Three Dog Night
B-side"Chest Fever"
ReleasedApril 1969
GenrePop rock, hard rock
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 played "One" in the key of F minor, and it was released as the second single from Three Dog Night's 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, 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.[4] It also reached number four in Canada.

Chart performance[edit]


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[9] Gold 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Other versions[edit]

In media[edit]

  • In 1990, in the episode "Mistaken Identity" of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, this song's lyrics intro was sung by Bob the Prisoner.
  • 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 1999 film Magnolia, by Paul Thomas Anderson, uses this song (sung by Aimee Mann) for its intro.
  • The eleventh episode of Spider-Man Unlimited is titled "One is the Loneliest Number".[13]
  • In Disney's Recess: School's Out (2001), the song is played when the main character T.J. misses his friends after they leave for their individual summer camps.
  • This song was used in a 2002 episode of the animated comedy series Family Guy called "Brian Wallows and Peter's Swallows".
  • This song was quoted by Robert Barone in an episode[which?] of Everybody Loves Raymond.
  • The song was sung by Nathan Lane and was featured on the soundtrack of Stuart Little 2 in 2002.
  • 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.
  • 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 October 2016, an original version recorded by Harry Nilsson was used in Masters of Sex TV series (season four, called "Coats or Keys").
  • Also in October 2016, the Harry version was used in The Blacklist TV series (episode 6, season four, called "The Thrushes").
  • The Three Dog Night version appeared in the 2016 video game Mafia 3.
  • In February 2017, the song was featured in The Lego Batman Movie.
  • In February 2019, the song played over the first scene of the seventh episode of The Umbrella Academy ("The Day That Was").
  • The song is featured in the trailer of Venom: Let There Be Carnage.


  1. ^ "Playlist: Best Harry Nilsson songs for what would be his 75th birthday". June 16, 2016. Retrieved August 20, 2016.
  2. ^ "One (song by Three Dog Night) ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Retrieved August 20, 2016.
  3. ^ Nimmervoll, Ed (September 13, 1969). "National Top 40". Go-Set. Waverley Press. Retrieved May 16, 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Cash Box Top 100 7/19/69". Archived from the original on July 18, 2013.
  5. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  6. ^ "RPM's Top 100 of 1969". RPM. January 10, 1970.
  7. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1969/Top 100 Songs of 1969".
  8. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles - 1969". Archived from the original on January 25, 2019. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
  9. ^ "American single certifications – Three Dog Night – One". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  10. ^ "Go-Set National Top 40, 11 October 1969".
  11. ^ "Mimicry And Memories -".
  12. ^ "Final track listing for Mimicry and Memories". Retrieved March 29, 2015.
  13. ^ "One Is the Loneliest Number". March 17, 2001 – via IMDb.

External links[edit]