One of Us (Joan Osborne song)

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"One of Us"
JoanOsbourneOneOfUsCDSingleCover.jpg
Single by Joan Osborne
from the album Relish
B-side
  • "Dracula Moon"
  • "Crazy Baby" (live)
ReleasedNovember 21, 1995 (1995-11-21)
Studio
Length
  • 5:21
  • 4:15 (edit)
Label
Songwriter(s)Eric Bazilian
Producer(s)Rick Chertoff
Joan Osborne singles chronology
"One of Us"
(1995)
"St. Teresa"
(1996)
Audio sample
"One of Us"
Music video
"One of Us" on YouTube

"One of Us" is a song by American singer Joan Osborne for her debut studio album, Relish (1995). Written by Eric Bazilian of the Hooters and produced by Rick Chertoff, the song was released on November 21, 1995, as Osborne's debut single and lead single from Relish, and it became a hit in November of that year, peaking at number four on the US Billboard Hot 100 and earning three Grammy nominations.

"One of Us" was also a hit around the world, topping the charts in Australia, Belgium, Canada, and Sweden, reaching number six on the UK Singles Chart, and becoming a top-20 hit in at least 12 other countries. The song went on to serve as the opening theme for the American television series Joan of Arcadia.

Background[edit]

Regarding Eric Bazilian's experience with "One of Us", he said, "I wrote that song 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."[1] For the lead and solo, Bazilian used his 1954 Gibson Gold Top Les Paul for the studio recording.[2]

Lyrics[edit]

The song deals with various aspects of belief in an anthropomorphic God by asking questions inviting the listener to consider how one might relate to such a God: for example "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 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, with Mrs. Nell Hampton of Salyersville, Kentucky, singing a variation of the 1928 John S. McConnell hymn "Heavenly Aeroplane".[3][4]

Critical reception[edit]

Roch Parisien from AllMusic 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".[5] Alan Jones from Music Week wrote, "Joan Osborne has come up with a delicious debut single One Of Us – an electrically charged and retro-styled song with an intimate vocal. The track addresses the question "What if God was one of us?, just a slob like one of us" placing him on the bus and taking phone calls from The Pope, doing so with humour, energy and a great tune, in a taut clutter-free production. A real find."[6] In 2007, the song was ranked at number 54 on VH1's "100 Greatest Songs of the '90s"[7] and number ten on the network's "40 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the '90s".

Music video[edit]

The accompanying music video for "One of Us" was directed by Mark Seliger and Fred Woodward, and 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 Osborne singing in front of the camera.

Track listings[edit]

Personnel[edit]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format(s) Label(s) Ref.
United States September 19, 1995 Contemporary hit radio
[64]
November 21, 1995 CD [65]
United Kingdom January 29, 1996
  • CD
  • cassette
Mercury [66]

Cover versions and parodies[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Will Harris (February 25, 2008). "Popdose Interview: Eric Bazilian of the Hooters".
  2. ^ https://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-much-gear-so-little-time/60587-mr-wittman-q-about-quot-one-us-quot.html
  3. ^ "The aeroplane ride / Nell Hampton [sound recording]" Traditional Music and Spoken Word Catalog from the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress [1]
  4. ^ A sample of the recording "The Airplane Ride" by Nell Hampton from the album "The Gospel Ship" (New World Records)[2] Archived June 29, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Roch Parisien. "Joan Osborne – Relish – Review". AllMusic.
  6. ^ Jones, Alan (February 3, 1996). "Talking Music" (PDF). Music Week. p. 27. Retrieved May 26, 2021.
  7. ^ "100 Greatest Songs of the '90s". Blog.vh1.com. December 13, 2007. Archived from the original on December 20, 2007. Retrieved August 29, 2012.
  8. ^ One of Us (US CD single liner notes). Joan Osborne. Blue Gorilla, Mercury Records. 1995. 422 852 368-2.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  9. ^ One of Us (Australian CD single liner notes). Joan Osborne. Blue Gorilla, Mercury Records. 1996. 852 368-2.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  10. ^ One of Us (US cassette single sleeve). Joan Osborne. Blue Gorilla, Mercury Records. 1995. 422 852 368-4.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  11. ^ One of Us (Australian cassette single sleeve). Joan Osborne. Blue Gorilla, Mercury Records. 1995. 852 368-4.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  12. ^ One of Us (European CD single liner notes). Joan Osborne. Blue Gorilla, Mercury Records. 1996. 852 438-2.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  13. ^ One of Us (UK cassette single sleeve). Joan Osborne. Blue Gorilla, Mercury Records. 1996. JOMC 1, 852 438-4.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  14. ^ One of Us (UK CD single liner notes). Joan Osborne. Blue Gorilla, Mercury Records. 1996. JOACD 1, 852 439-2.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
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  41. ^ "Joan Osborne Chart History (Adult Pop Songs)". Billboard.
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  67. ^ What if God Smoked Cannabis? | The Bob Rivers Show
  68. ^ The Not Al Page Archived August 11, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
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  70. ^ "Dr.Evil What If GOD was one of us". November 16, 2008. Retrieved May 25, 2022 – via YouTube.
  71. ^ "Vanilla Sky 'one of us' !". Retrieved April 17, 2022 – via YouTube.
  72. ^ Malkin, Mark (September 29, 2010). "Hallelujah? Glee Has a Spiritual Awakening". E! Online. E!. Retrieved September 29, 2010.
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External links[edit]