Alone Again Or

"Alone Again Or" is a song originally recorded in 1967 by the rock group Love and written by band member Bryan MacLean. It appears on the album Forever Changes, and was released as a single in the USA, UK, Australia, France and The Netherlands.[1]

"Alone Again Or"
Single by Love
from the album Forever Changes
B-side"A House Is Not a Motel"
ReleasedJanuary 1968 (1968-01)
Format7-inch single
  • September 10, 1967
Songwriter(s)Bryan MacLean
Love singles chronology
"¡Que Vida!"
"Alone Again Or"
"Your Mind and We Belong Together"

Versions have subsequently been recorded by an eclectic variety of bands and singers including UFO (1977), the Damned (1986), Sarah Brightman (1990), The Boo Radleys (1991), the Oblivians (1993), Chris Pérez Band (1999), Calexico (2004), Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs (2006) and Les Fradkin (2007). Two demo versions by MacLean himself were released in 1997 on his album Ifyoubelievein.

Original recording by Love

MacLean originally wrote the song, then called "Alone Again", in 1965 for Love's debut album. However, he did not complete it until the recording of "Forever Changes" in the summer of 1967. The song was inspired by his memory of waiting for a girlfriend, and the melody drew loosely on Sergei Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kije Suite.[2] The essence of the song is the contrast between the positivity of the tune and the bleakness of the lyrics, with the chorus "And I will be alone again tonight, my dear" finishing with a lone acoustic guitar, closing the song with the opening melody that sounds anything but ecstatic,[3] ending with an E minor plus 2 chord.

For the recording session, which took place on September 10, 1967 at Sunset Sound Recorders in Hollywood,[4] arranger David Angel worked with MacLean, adding a string section and a horn part for a mariachi band whom co-producer Bruce Botnick had recently used on a Tijuana Brass album. MacLean later said, "That was the happiest I ever was with anything we ever did as a band - the orchestral arrangement of that song".[2] However, Botnick, with co-producer and band leader Arthur Lee, remixed the track to bring Lee's own unison vocal to the forefront of the song, at least partly on the grounds that MacLean's own vocal lead was too weak.[2] Lee also added to the mystery of the song by changing the title to "Alone Again Or".

With Lee now on co-lead vocals, "Alone Again Or" became the opening track of Forever Changes. It was the sole single released from the album to reach the Billboard singles chart. Its 1968 B-side was Lee's "A House Is Not a Motel", although the 1970 reissue of the single featured "Good Times" from the 1969 Four Sail album instead.[5] "Alone Again Or", in an edited version in early 1968, initially peaked nationally at No. 123 (and at No. 7 on Los Angeles station KHJ-AM), while the longer, original album version spent three weeks on the singles chart in 1970, peaking at No. 99, according to Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles: 1955–2010.

MacLean's composition (as well as the recording itself) has come to be considered a classic. In 2004, "Alone Again Or" came in at No. 436 in the Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time poll.[6] In the magazine's 2010 version, the song ranked at No. 442.[7]

Writing about Forever Changes, critic Billy Altman called the song a "gem".[8]

In 1997, Sundazed Records released the CD Ifyoubelievein, which contained two demo versions of "Alone Again Or" featuring MacLean on acoustic guitar.

The song has been featured in several films, most notably the 1996 films Bottle Rocket and Sleepers. It appeared at the close of the 2009 British comedy movie Bunny and the Bull, playing as the lead character finally breaks free of his obsessions. Alone Again Or was also featured in the climactic parade scene ending the last episode of season one of the 2019 Netflix series Russian Doll.

Single by the Damned

"Alone Again Or"
Single by The Damned
from the album Anything
B-side"In Dulce Decorum (Live)"
Released6 April 1987
FormatCD single, 7" single, 12" single
RecordedDenmark; Hammersmith 1986
GenrePsychedelic rock, gothic rock
Songwriter(s)Bryan MacLean
Producer(s)Jon Kelly
The Damned singles chronology
"Alone Again Or"
"In Dulce Decorum"

"Alone Again Or" was released as a single by the Damned on 6 April 1987 by MCA. They recorded it as an acknowledgement of one of their influences, the band Love. Boosted by multi-format releases (including the band's first CD single, which included the first release of their version of "Eloise" on this format) and a surreal video helmed by Gerard de Thame, the single peaked at No. 27 in the UK – the Damned's final Top 40 hit to date. The UK B-side "In Dulce Decorum" was recorded live at the Hammersmith Odeon on 12 November 1986.

MCA also issued the single in the United States, their first single to be issued in the territory since "Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde" in 1981. This release added the studio version of "In Dulce Decorum" in place of the live version on the UK release.


  1. "Love Singles". 2002-03-04. Retrieved 2016-10-01.
  2. Barney Hoskyns, Arthur Lee: Alone Again Or, 2001, ISBN 1-84195-085-5
  3. "Alone Again Or". 2002-07-03. Retrieved 2016-10-01.
  4. "Love - Forever Changes". Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  5. Billboard. 1970-08-15. p. 78. Retrieved 2016-10-01.
  6. "The Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rock List Music. Retrieved April 15, 2018.
  7. "500 Greatest Songs of All Time: 442. 'Alone Again Or'". Rolling Stone. Wenner Publishing. Retrieved April 15, 2018.
  8. "Forever Changes". 20 February 2001. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
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