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LC

"All By Myself" vs. "Alone Again (Naturally)"

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LC   

Over the decades, "All By Myself" has been elevated into the upper echelon of pop songs by countless covers. So many artists have interpreted Eric Carmen's best-known song that we've lost count. It's interesting that the other most famous broken-heart song of the 1970s — "Alone Again (Naturally)" — hasn't inspired the same level of coverage. Yes, there are many interpretations, but nothing like what "ABM" has spawned.

Yet hearing them back-to-back on a playlist multiple times, I come to the conclusion that "Alone Again Naturally" falls into deeper despair than even "ABM."

Eric's classic centers on love lost with the added downer of absent friends ("nobody's home"). In "Alone Again," there's also a sense of loss and loneliness, but to the point of utter hopelessness. Right off, the singer is planning a jump off a tower to illustrate "what it's like when you've been shattered."

Not only does he have an even tougher "lost love" story (left at the altar), but the singer describes the impact of his father's death on him and on his mom... and, later, the loss of his mom. Along the way, he wonders why God deserted him. Yep, his depths are pretty low.

So, among all-time heartbreak songs, I don't know how anything could rank higher — and feel lower — than "Alone Again (Naturally)." Ultimately, "All By Myself" feels like something you get over. "Alone Again (Naturally)" is a chronic thing. Listen to them back to back and see what you think... if you can take 10 minutes of doom and gloom!

 

 

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Kirk   

Great topic, LC!

Just off the top of my head, I think one reason Alone Again doesn't SOUND as despairing as All By Myself is the up beat pop sound it generates. It's as if Gilbert is talking about it in the third person, or maybe even someone else. The meter is part of the reason. And there is no drama in the melody.  With a lyric change it could just have easily been a happy song. If you don't focus on the lyrics (of which I'm guilty a lot), the song just kind of bops along. May be a universal message, but without scrutiny of the lyrics, just a nice pop song. As a casual listener, I'm just not convinced he'd do it!

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James   

Nice post LC. And Kirk, I get what you´re saying, but  I see the song´s melody differently. Underneath the poppy melody is a wonderful melancholy, that to me communicates the depths of despair that LC articulated the song evokes.

I´ve recently bought some Gilbert cds but still need to listen more. For me he´s a treasure that most of us did not delve into to the degree we should have. At least that applies to me. I had his greatest hits, but that was all, till now.

"Alone Again" is one of those songs that is bigger than a piece of music. Just so great it is and a piece of genius the 70s can take pride in.

James

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Kirk   

I remember when it was on the charts in the early 70's...our local station KHJ would do the top 30 countdown, and every week for I don't know how many weeks, the countdown ended with Alone Again as #1. I think it stayed at that position longer than any other song the year came out.

James, I can see that melancholy now that you pointed it out. It's like the guy whose getting ready to end it all and somebody stops by to help and the response is, "That's ok, I'm good- don't worry about it." Which truly is despairing, so far gone it's presented as matter-of-factly. Now I get it.

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LC   

Fair and excellent points, both. The melody does have sort of a poppy pace (maybe reflecting resignation?) but I also hear the melancholy James notes. It’s there and it’s deep. The song truly is a treasure. 

I’ve written this here before, but when “Alone Again” first came out, my family (all six kids) were visiting a family with nine kids (!). I was about 11, and I remember playing some baseball board game with my pal, and the whole time, one of his many sisters had a portable turntable and played “Alone Again” nonstop for what seemed like two hours. Over and over and over and over... And yet I didn’t get tired of it. She was obviously very taken by it, and there was something about the melancholy and sadness that must have grabbed me, even at that young age.

It’s an example of how the greatest music can have remarkable connectivity and staying power. I can still put “Alone Again” on Repeat and hear it over and over and over and over....

I, too, need to dig more in on Gilbert. I’m the same as James—greatest hits only. I think Bundles and Tunes are more into G.O.’s wider catalog.

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LC   

If you're 2nd in the hierarchy and there are four girls and two boys, I'll be astonished (but not surprised!).

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LC   

Ha! Close enough. The older one or two out of that many kids have a certain independence, path-finding spirit, diplomacy, and penchant for creativity. 

And... a 4-2 split is a 4-2 split! 

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12 hours ago, Matthew C. Clark said:

The late Ray Conniff & The Singers "All By Myself" (1976) (audio only)

Eric told me he found this cover version to be particularly funny: a large group of singers, singing "All by myself!"

:lol:

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Just now, Vinnie B Trask said:

Gilberts original version cannot be redone with the heavy hitter singers as it cannot be over sung and sound effective. All By Myself can be belted out especially the chorus similar to Cant Live if Living is Without you where Nilsson belted it out to cover Badfinger.

O'Sullivans version cannot be done better and the great cover artists know this.....Naturally!

 

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On 5/1/2021 at 7:36 PM, Matthew C. Clark said:

The late Ray Conniff & The Singers "Alone Again (Naturally)" (audio only) (1972)

This is rubbish!

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On 5/1/2021 at 7:42 PM, Matthew C. Clark said:

The late Ray Conniff & The Singers "All By Myself" (1976) (audio only)

In the winter 1978 I worked as a weekend overnight announcer at "FM 93 WNTQ" in Syracuse. It was a 'beautiful music' station.  The station sat at the end of a dead end road in a frozen snow-covered marshy field on the outskirts of town. I remember Ray Conniff's ABM popping up on the playlist and, if you had happened to drive down that dead end road at 3AM that sub-zero Syracuse night, and looked in the window of the broadcast booth, you probably would have caught me singing along while conducting the world's largest make-believe orchestra...all by myself

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LC   

Live renditions of "AAN," then and now (well, 2016). Not lip-synched, either. His voice sure has held up over the years. I'm almost certain Tommy and Lew went to see him live just a couple years ago. There's a thread here somewhere about that. 

 

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James   

He has held up awesomely. The newish album I´m listening to now is very good, every song is at least enjoyable to listen to. He rocks on a couple, and it works!

I am, and will be, delving much deeper into his music in the next weeks/months. I believe he´s the real deal, ....way more than a guy with a few strong hits.

James

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LC   

It'll be good to get your take on G.O. And I saw the other thread you started; I was just about to post something there when I stumbled upon this YouTube vid of somebody doing "Alone Again" in a John Lennon way. I never made that connection, but yes... this song does have a Lennon feel to it. Ironically, I was about to make the point on your thread that "Get Down" sounds like it could've been written by... Paul McCartney. 

 

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On 5/3/2021 at 6:55 PM, LC said:

It'll be good to get your take on G.O. And I saw the other thread you started; I was just about to post something there when I stumbled upon this YouTube vid of somebody doing "Alone Again" in a John Lennon way. I never made that connection, but yes... this song does have a Lennon feel to it. Ironically, I was about to make the point on your thread that "Get Down" sounds like it could've been written by... Paul McCartney.

This is not Lennon, Nor any Beatle.  Paul would have covered it best.

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FYI  O'Sullivan lives in the secluded Jersey Island which is an independent country with his wife and relatively young children.

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LC   

Vinnie, I didn't say that clip was John Lennon singing. Read more closely, man! It says "somebody doing 'Alone Again' in a John Lennon way."

That said, I would tend to agree that "AAN" has a McCartney-esque flavor as well. But I'm not backing down that I hear some Lennon in it. The best Beatles-influenced acts (ELO, World Party, Raspberries) could channel both Lennon and McCartney—and some Harrison, too. In "Alone Again," the melancholy in the melody reminds me of Paul, the gloom-and-doom theme of John.

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