“Alone Again (Naturally)” by Gilbert O’Sullivan 

Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Alone Again (Naturally)” features lyrics that are very depressing. It commences with the vocalist implying that he’s on the verge of committing suicide. And the stated reason is that his bride-to-be stood him up at the altar. Furthermore, in addition to her doing him like that, she caused Gilbert much embarrassment amongst attendees.

Even worse, in the grand scheme of things, is the fact that now the singer finds himself “alone again”, i.e. continuing to suffer from a distinct feeling of loneliness into the unforeseeable future.

Then, the second verse takes on a more existential/spiritual stance. Here, the singer reveals that there was a point in life when he was very much happy and optimistic. But cold, hard “reality” flipped that disposition 180 degrees, to the extent that Gilbert even began to “doubt… God and His Mercy”. In other words, he can’t understand why fate has treated him so cruelly. And he once again closes out the stanza by sarcastically noting that he’s suffering from loneliness.

The bridge that follows insinuates that the vocalist’s developed lack of faith is not only due to his personal situation. Instead, he perceives countless people “in the world” whose “hearts [are] broken” in a manner that “can’t be mended”. And what O’Sullivan is asking in response is what is it that a person should do when faced with such a predicament, i.e. being hopelessly depressed.

A Never-ending Sadness

Going into the third and final verse, it is understandable why many have referred to this song as one of the most depressing songs ever written.  And that’s because usually when we come across pieces like this, once the singer gets through lamenting, they at least resolve to make an attempt to overcome their depression. But instead, in closing out this song, Gilbert treats us to yet another sad story, this time of his father passing away, and his mother’s “heart” being “so badly broken” that afterwards, it’s like she never experienced joy again. 

And then when she too gave up the ghost, the vocalist himself “cried and cried all day”, with the conclusive suggestion being that she was his best friend. Her passing is therefore one of the main factors that caused and is perpetuating his loneliness.

Takeaway

All of that said, if it makes the listener feel any better, the fact is that Gilbert O’Sullivan didn’t base this song on his real life. That recognition is not to say that he hasn’t faced his own personal hardships, nor is it to imply that his life was all gravy when he penned this piece. But as described, he was basically engaged in a bunch of random songwriting at the time.  And “Alone Again (Naturally)”, which proved to be his biggest hit (stateside), was “just one of the songs (he had) written” during that period.

"Alone Again (Naturally)" Lyrics

Release Date of “Alone Again (Naturally)”

On 1st June, 1972, “Alone Again (Naturally)” was released through MAM Records as a single.

In 2004, Gilbert released a compilation album titled “The Berry Vest of Gilbert O’Sullivan”. The project contained 20 tracks, including “Alone Again (Naturally)”.

Credits

O’Sullivan is the sole songwriter of the track.

He’s also credited as a producer alongside Gordon Mills.

Chart Success

“Alone Again (Naturally)” became a #1 hit in US. It also topped charts in Canada as well as France.

It also enjoyed a huge success in Australia (where it reached number 2). The song also met with great success in Ireland (#2) and New Zealand (#2). On the official UK Singles chart, “Alone Again” reached a peak position of #3.

Legal Issue

O’Sullivan sued Biz Markie in 1991 after Markie sampled “Alone Again (Naturally)” in his track titled “Alone Again”. According to Markie and his label, they had previously tried to clear the sample through O’Sullivan but he declined. They decided to release the song despite this. The case was brought to court. At the end of the day, O’Sullivan emerged the victor. Markie was instructed by the court to pay O’Sullivan a substantial amount of money in damages.

Alone Again (Naturally)

Usage in Movies and TV Shows

“Alone Again (Naturally)” is featured in 2007 American rom-com movie “I Could Never Be Your Woman”.

2009 American animated adventure-comedy movie “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” features this track. It is played near the end of the movie.

2010 American animated superhero comedy movie, “Megamind”, utilizes this song. Here, the song is played when Megamind (Will Ferrell) comes to the realization that there’s no one to fight him.

“Alone Again (Naturally)” is used on 2014 rom-com, “Love, Rosie”.

American sports comedy-drama TV series “Ted Lasso” utilizes the track in their second season, episode 9.

Netflix comedy-drama series, “Sex Education” uses this song on the 8th Episode of the 2nd Season.

Popular Covers of “Alone Again (Naturally)”

Nina Simone officially released her rendition of this classic as a bonus track on the 1988 reissue of her 1982 album “Fodder on My Wings”.

On Neil Diamond’s “Dreams” album, he covers all his favorite songs, including “Alone Again (Naturally).

Vonda Shepard released her version on the 2001 soundtrack album, “Ally McBeal: For Once in My Life”.

In 2007, Donny Osmond released his sixteenth album, “Love Songs of the ‘70s”. One of the songs on this album was a cover of “Alone Again (Naturally)”.

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