Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Parts of Speech: Alone Again (Naturally)

I’ll have to admit, this selection was not one of my favorite songs when it was released in the US in 1972. I thought it was sappy, but Irishman Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Alone Again (Naturally)” struck a chord with American audiences. It was a number one record for six weeks on both the Hot 100 and the Adult Contemporary charts and was the second most popular record in 1972. By the end of the decade, “Alone Again (Naturally)” ranked as the fifth most popular tune of the 1970s.

Although its dreary lyrical content would bring a tear to most eyes, I have chosen it for our second week special on parts of speech because the title is a series of adverbs. To be honest, the word “alone” can be either an adverb or an adjective, but for argument’s sake, let’s stick with the adverbial identification. Do you know how hard it is to find songs with a series of three adverbs, well it ain’t easy.

Contrary to popular belief at the time, O’Sullivan’s composition “Alone Again (Naturally)” was not autobiographical. He was not left standing at the altar and had not contemplated suicide. Although, his father had passed away, O’Sullivan hardly knew him – so his grief is off the table – as well as that of his mother’s, as the old man had been abusive. Finally, O’Sullivan’s mother was still living at the time this song was released. So if you bought the record out of pity, you were out 89¢.

The guitar solo which mimicked the melody was supplied by session musician Big Jim Sullivan. It appears that he was playing a nylon string guitar for the session, but I can’t verify it. I can verify that it was released on the MAM Records label, which was distributed in the US by London Records. MAM stood for Management Agency & Music Ltd. Only two artists on MAM charted in the US: O’Sullivan and his Welsh label mate Dave Edmunds.

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