Alone Again (Naturally)

12 hours ago
Albert Flores

"Alone Again (Naturally)" is a song by Irish singer-songwriter Gilbert O'Sullivan. It was recorded in 1972 at the same time as - but not included on - his album Back to Front, and was a popular hit.

Between late July and early September 1972 in America the single spent six non-consecutive weeks at number one on Billboard's Hot 100 - interrupted by Three Dog Night's "Black and White" - and ranked no. 2 in the year-end chart (behind Roberta Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face"). +more Both O'Sullivan's and Flack's singles spent six weeks at number one, 11 weeks in the Top Ten, 15 weeks in the Top 40 and 18 weeks on the Hot 100. In a decade-end survey as counted down on syndicated radio show Casey Kasem's American Top 40, using Billboard statistics, "Alone Again (Naturally)" ranked five, with Debby Boone's "You Light Up My Life" at number one. It also spent six weeks at number one on Billboard's Easy Listening chart. In April 1972 "Alone Again" peaked at no. 3 on the UK singles chart. The song is included on O'Sullivan's The Berry Vest of Gilbert O'Sullivan album (2004) on the EMI record label. Big Jim Sullivan plays the guitar break in the original recorded version of the song.

The song was involved in a 1991 court case which held that sampling of music - as had been done with O'Sullivan's recording - can constitute copyright infringement.


"Alone Again (Naturally)" is a melancholy, introspective ballad. In the first verse, the singer contemplates suicide after having been left "in the lurch at a church"; in the second, he wonders if there is a God; finally, he laments the death of his parents. +more O'Sullivan has said the song is not autobiographical: for example, his mother was alive during its composition, and he was not close to his father, who was cruel to his mother and died when the singer was 11 years old.


The song received extensive radio airplay in the months after its release, and was critically praised. O'Sullivan commented that “Neil Diamond covered 'Alone Again (Naturally)' and said he couldn't believe a 21-year-old wrote it, but for me it was just one song I had written. +moreNeil Sedaka stating when he covered the song in 2020 that he wished that he himself had written the song, because its complexity was more typical of someone much older than 21.

Chart performance

Weekly charts

Chart (1972)Peak position
Australia (KMR)2
Canada (RPM Top Singles)1
Canada (RPM Adult Contemporary)1
France (IFOP)1
New Zealand (Listener)2
US Cash Box Top 1001

Year-end charts

Chart (1972)Rank
US Billboard Hot 1002
US Cash Box2

All-time charts

Chart (1958-2018)Position
US Billboard Hot 100137

Copyright lawsuit

Grand Upright Music, Ltd v. Warner Bros. +more Records Inc. was a copyright case heard in 1991 by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. The case pitted O'Sullivan against Biz Markie after the rapper sampled O'Sullivan's song "Alone Again (Naturally)". The court ruled that sampling without permission can be copyright infringement. The judgment changed the hip hop music industry, requiring that music sampling be preapproved by the original copyright owners to avoid a lawsuit.

Maison Ikkoku

This song and O'Sullivan's "Get Down" were featured as the opening and ending for episode 24 of the popular Japanese anime Maison Ikkoku, based on the manga by Rumiko Takahashi. O'Sullivan was signed to production company Kitty Film's associated record label, Kitty Records, which wanted to use the anime's popularity as a way to promote the singer in Japan. +more According to series director Kazuo Yamazaki, the songs were dropped after only one episode because they were unpopular with viewers. They were not included on the English-language American release of the anime, replaced by the previously used Japanese theme songs.

The song was also used as the ending theme for the 1986 live-action Maison Ikkoku film, Apartment Fantasy.

Notable cover versions

Several artists have covered the song.

* A recording by Andy Williams was the title track for the U. S. +more release of his album of cover songs later in 1972. * Nina Simone, included as a bonus track on the 1988 digital reissue of her 1982 album Fodder on My Wings. Simone's version has rewritten lyrics, and refer to her troubled relationship with her late father * Lazlo Bane's frontman Chad Fischer, from the 2009 animated film Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. Fischer's rewritten lyrics humorously explores the desire of an acorn for the fictional prehistoric squirrel who once chased it. * Diana Krall released a duet version with Michael Bublé on her 2015 album Wallflower. * Vulfmon (Jack Stratton, of Vulfpeck) released a version, with vocals by Monica Martin and flute by Hailey Niswanger, for his 2022 album Here We Go Jack.

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