One of Us (Joan Osborne song)
|"One of Us"|
|Single by Joan Osborne|
|from the album Relish|
|Released||February 21, 1995
December 28, 1995 (re-release)
"One of Us" is a song written by Eric Bazilian (of The Hooters) and originally released by Joan Osborne. Released in March 1995 on the album Relish and produced by Rick Chertoff, it became a Top 40 hit in November of that year. The song is the theme song for the American television series Joan of Arcadia. The song was nominated for three Grammys and peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100, but Osborne was unable to repeat the success and is considered a one-hit wonder.
In an interview, Bazilian said, "I wrote ['One of Us'] one night — the quickest song I ever wrote — to impress a girl. Which worked, because we're married and have two kids. But we were in the middle of writing Joan's album, which was a group effort with Rick Chertoff and Joan and Rob and I, and I did a demo of 'One of Us,' this wacky little demo which I ended up putting as a hidden track on the CD of my first solo record, and I played [it] for them. And it really hadn't even occurred to me that it was something that Joan might do, but Rick, in his wisdom, asked Joan if she thought she could sing it. And I think it was better that he asked it that way rather than 'Do you want to sing it?' Because the answer to that might not have been yes. But she definitely said she could sing it, and we did a little live demo of a guitar and her singing it. And when I got into my car and popped the cassette in, I started practicing the Grammy speech that I should've gotten to give."
The song deals with various aspects of belief in God by asking questions inviting the listener to consider how they might relate to God, such as "Would you call [God's name] to his face?" or "Would you want to see [God's face] if seeing meant that you would have to believe in things like heaven and in Jesus and the saints and all the prophets?" The title of the song comes from religious statement, "What if God was one of us?"
The album version starts off with the first four lines of a recording titled "The Aeroplane Ride", made on October 27, 1937 by American folklorist Alan Lomax and his wife Elizabeth for the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress, of Mrs. Nell Hampton of Salyersville, Kentucky singing a variation of the 1928 John S. McConnell hymn "Heavenly Aeroplane".
Directed by Mark Seliger and Fred Woodward, the video was mainly shot on Coney Island, with various attractions like rollercoasters, ferris wheels and the New York Aquarium shown, interchanged with the vintage-looking shots in sepia and Joan singing in front of the camera.
Roch Parisien called the song "a simple, direct statement of faith, honest and unadorned, one framed in a near-perfect chorus and delectable Neil Young-ish guitar riff." In 2007, the song was ranked at #54 on "VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 90's" and #10 on the network's 40 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 90's.
- "One of Us" (single edit) - 5:05
- CD single - France
- "One of Us" (edit) — 4:16
- "One of Us" (album version) — 5:21
- CD single - USA
- "One of Us" (Album Version) — 5:21
- "Dracula Moon" — 6:21
- CD maxi single - Europe
- "One of Us" (edit) — 4:16
- "Dracula Moon" — 6:21
- "One of Us" (album version) — 5:21
- "Crazy Baby" (live from Fox Theatre) — 8:06
- Joan Osborne – vocals
- Eric Bazilian – Guitars, backing vocals, electric piano
- Mark Egan – Bass guitar
- Rob Hyman – Drums, Mellotron, backing vocals
- William Wittman - Engineer/Mixer
Accolades, chart performances and sales
In January 1996, "One of Us" hit the top 10, peaking at number four on the Billboard Hot 100.
Appearances in other media
- The theme song for the CBS television series Joan of Arcadia is a version of "One of Us" re-recorded by Osborne specifically for the show.
- "One of Us" was played during a montage at the end of television series Homicide: Life on the Street episode 4x08, "Sniper Part 1" (1996).
- "One of Us" was played during the end scenes of CBS television series Cold Case episode 4x01, "Rampage" (2006).
- In the 1999 film Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, the character Dr. Evil (Mike Myers) sings part of the song's chorus as a duet with Mini-Me (Verne Troyer) on piano, and claims to have written it himself (after having time-traveled back to 1969).
- The song appears twice in the 2001 thriller Vanilla Sky. First the main-character David Aames (Tom Cruise) sings it being transported to his face-transplantation; later the original song is played.
- The song also appears in the 2003 movie Bruce Almighty.
- Part of the song appeared in 2014 on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon during the skit Ew! with Taylor Swift. Jimmy (in drag as teenage girl Sara) dances to "Come and Get It" by Selena Gomez when her unhip stepfather played by A. D. Miles barges in, confuses Selena for Joan, then proceeds to sing "What if God was one of us/Just a..." when an embarrassed Sara screams "Ewww!" to make him stop.
Cover versions and parodies
- Prince covered the song on his Emancipation album, changing the phrase "just a slob" to "just a slave like one of us".
- Brad Roberts of the Crash Test Dummies recorded a cover of the song.
- In 1997, the rock group Zilch (later called SONICFLOOd) pondered the song on their tune "In The Sky" with the line, "...she asked if God was just a slob like us, well maybe something there is lacking".
- Dance covers of the song have been recorded by various artists, including Outta Control, Nasara, and Pariz.
- An R&B style cover of the song by Cheryl Pepsii Riley was featured in the film Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005).
- Martyn Joseph recorded a version of this song.
- Gregorian covered the song in their 2007 album Masters of Chant Chapter VI.
- Bob Rivers wrote the parody What if God Smoked Cannabis? in 1997 (often incorrectly attributed to Weird Al Yankovic ). A less well-known parody with the same title but different lyrics was produced in 1995 by Cincinnati radio station WEBN 
- Theo Tams covered the song on his tour.
- In 2009, Rivers Cuomo, Joe LoPiccolo, and Rainn Wilson collaborated on a cover for Sirius XM radio.
- Indiana Gregg included a cover of this song on her album Woman at Work
- The Italian singer Eugenio Finardi has recorded an Italian cover titled "Uno di noi" (One of us in Italian) in 1996
- The German singer Klaus Lage recorded a German cover titled "Was wenn Gott" in 2003.
- Another German version, "Einer wie wir", 2007 by Erdmöbel has been performed by the Hooters themselves during recent German and European tours.
- Jermaine Sellers sang his version of "One of Us" as his first audition in front of the judges on American Idol Season 9.
- In 2001, Chihiro Onitsuka covered this song at a special live.
- The song is covered on the Glee episode "Grilled Cheesus", by the actors Jenna Ushkowitz, Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Amber Riley, Chris Colfer, and Dianna Agron.
- German singer/songwriter Stefan Stoppok published his version of the song in 2000, with him performing together with bass player Reggie Worthy.
- In 2011, Singapore singer - Kit Chan covered this song in her comeback album (Re-interpreting '重譯').
- In 2009, Malcolm Middleton covered the song on his EP Girl Band Pop Songs
- Eric Bazilian performed a very special acoustic rendition live on the Preston and Steve Show at halftime of Possum Bowl I.
- In 2013, the American Punkrock Band World's Scariest Police Chases (band) had a parody of that song in the intro of their song Gay Jesus for President
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