Day 21: Owner Of A Lonely Heart

Song: “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” by Yes
Reached #1: January 21, 1984 (their first, 2 weeks)

This had to be a Monday. Had to.

I’ve read that Yes wrote this song because they were challenged to write a #1 single.  They were (and in their many and varied incarnations, still are) an progressive-rock, album-based band.  They don’t do singles.  But they did this one.

And while the song is terrific (and really does hold up 30 years later), it’s the video that really makes the song, playing into ‘80s Soviet-gulag stories, but storyboarded by someone who must’ve been higher than a kite.

No, seriously… watch the video.  And I’ve embedded the longer version, not the “single” version MTV played in the ‘80s, because it actually has a strange interlude (most of the first two minutes) that makes the remaining trippy 4-and-a-half-minutes… well, they’re still trippy, but at least it sets the scene a little better.

I can only imagine how much fun actor Danny Webb (the poor, psychotically-broken central character) had overacting his way through the “interrogation”… I mean, can you imagine the direction he got?  “Just flip out a bit… then a bit more… then completely lose your shit.”  What actor wouldn’t love those stage directions?

The best part of researching this blog is finding odd connections – did you know that The Art of Noise got their start as the production team for the 90125 album under Trevor Horn?  And that Horn signed them to ZTT based, in part, on what they did with samples of “Owner Of A Lonely Heart”?  I didn’t…

Amazingly, most of this Yes lineup are still touring.  With all the changes they’ve been through, I wouldn’t have believed that the current Yes would resemble “Yes” at all…

Tomorrow, a soundtrack single that… well… didn’t get a lot of respect when it arrived.

Other songs that reached #1 on January 21:
1989 –
“Two Hearts” by Phil Collins (his sixth, 2 weeks)
2006 – “Grillz” by Nelly feat. Paul Wall, Ali & Gipp (Nelly’s fourth, 2 weeks)

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