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
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 #5 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100[1] and #4 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 #4 on the Go-Set National Top 40 Chart.[2]

Single by Three Dog Night
from the album Three Dog Night
B-side "Chest Fever"
Released April 1969
Recorded 1968
Genre 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"

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 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)[3]
  • In 2014, the Three Dog Night cover of the song appeared in the teaser trailer for season 5 of the American crime drama Boardwalk Empire.

In media[edit]


  1. ^ Three Dog Night, "One" Chart Position Retrieved 18 February 2015
  2. ^ Nimmervoll, Ed (13 September 1969). "National Top 40". Go-Set. Waverley Press. Retrieved 16 May 2014. 
  3. ^ "Final track listing for Mimicry and Memories". Retrieved 29 March 2015.