Gilbert O’Sullivan – Alone Again (Naturally)

First Hit #1: July 29, 1972

Legend has it, the song Gloomy Sunday has caused many people to kill themselves, the content and melody conspiring to drain all hope from the listener. I’m not completely sure a song has that power, partially because I’ve heard the Billie Holiday version multiple times and haven’t offed myself yet, but also because Alone Again (Naturally) is not associated with a rash of suicides, and I can’t think of a more depressing song.

Let’s examine the content. It’s about a man who fails to kill himself after his fiancee leaves him, and then he decides to relate a story about how his mother died because she couldn’t face the world without her husband. It is quite bleak, in other words, and O’Sullivan doesn’t help matters by rendering it in a most downbeat manner. If I was in the torture business, I’d play this song on repeat, not because it’s bad – actually, I like it in small doses – but because it’s so bleak that I suspect prolonged exposure would drain the life and hope out of anyone. It’s a real end of the world kind of sound, a song that just sucks you down. Possibly the most bleak the top of the chart has ever been.

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