Sunday, October 2, 2011

Song of the Day: One

How about the occasional "Song of the Day" post? I think we're overdue.
The phase "one is the loneliest number" is quite common today but few know who actually coined it. Being the opening line to the classic song called "One," most people recall Three Dog Night singing it, however, it was actually written and first released by American singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson (featured a few months ago here). Released on his third album in 1968, Nilsson composed "One" after calling someone and getting the 'busy' signal on the other end. He stayed on the line, listening to the 'beep beep beep' tone, which became the opening notes of the song. Reminiscent of a George Martin arrangement (The Beatles' orchestrator) with its subtle woodwind and string accompaniment, this baroque pop song is beautiful, and perfectly evokes the feeling of loneliness and the desperation it brings. If you're unfamiliar with Nilsson's original, this haunting song may come as a surprise (only audio, no video footage).

On that note, we'll conclude with the extremely popular cover version of "One" made famous by Three Dog Night (just featured last month here). Eventually included on the band's self-titled debut album (not in the initial copies) and released as a single in April 1969, this rockin' version reached #5 on the Billboard charts, becoming the group's first big hit. Using a completely different arrangement, you may find it hard to not join in with co-lead vocalist Chuck Negron, singing about that loneliest number.

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