"Alone Again (Naturally)" -- Gilbert O'Sullivan
As I mentioned earlier, some songs celebrate loneliness more overtly than others. Gilbert O'Sullivan's 1972 #1 hit "Alone Again (Naturally)" is pretty straightforward in its meaning, spending six weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 charts. The song may be more famous nowadays for Biz Markie using a sample of the song in his own song "Alone Again." The subsequent 1991 copyright case set the ground rules for future music sampling.
"Dancing On My Own" -- Robyn
The former "Show Me Love" singer is more popular than ever thanks to reinventing her once totally bubblegum pop sound. 2010 saw the release of her dual Body Talk albums, the first edition of which featured the amazingly upbeat "Dancing On My Own." Robyn's refrain of "I'm in the corner / Watching you kiss her / Ooh / I'm right over here / Why can't you see me? / Ooh" strikes a major cord for any and all ladies who have been passed over by a hopeful suitor in their lifetimes.
"Why Does It Always Rain On Me?" -- Travis
This 1999 song from the Glaswegian quartet is such a serendipitous ode that it's hard to hear the loneliness in the song. Fran Healy's vocals paint an sadly uplifting portrait of a downtrodden man who can't seem to find his better, "sunny" days -- at least for the time being.
"Message In A Bottle" -- The Police
This 1979 hit from The Police is all about the song's story. The song tells of a castaway on a deserted island who sends out a message in a bottle hoping to seek out love. The castaway has not received any sort of response after a year's time, yet he finds "a hundred billion bottles" the next day, prompting Sting to sing "Seems like I'm not alone in being alone." "Message In A Bottle" helps show that there is no shame in being alone.
"Creep" -- Stone Temple Pilots
Where "Message In A Bottle" and "Why Does It Always Rain On Me?" were uplifting songs, Stone Temple Pilots' 1992 ballad "Creep" is just plain sad. Scott Weiland brilliantly ponders why he's half the man he used to be and why he likes to steal, coming to the conclusion that "Friends don't mean a thing." "Creep" is a sad song about a sad, lonely man.
"Speechless" -- At The Drive-In
It takes a real fan of At The Drive-In, ahem, to recognize how a song like "Speechless" -- off their 1997 EP El Gran Orgo -- is extremely sad. "Speechless" is unique on this list as it shows how someone in a relationship can feel alone. The song paints blunt picture of domestic abuse and how difficult it can be for the abused to speak out against their abuser. At The Drive-In have many songs with heavy subject material, yet "Speechless" is their most potent.
"Last Goodbye" -- Jeff Buckley
If the title doesn't quite say it all, "Last Goodbye" is about a bitter breakup. Buckley laments how he "hates to see the love between us go," yet he knows it's "because I didn't know you at all." He opines for that one final kiss, but he wants it to be out of "desire" and not "consolation," a very trying concept when saying that final goodbye to someone we've loved for so long.
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"Someday I Will Treat You Good" -- Sparklehorse
When scheming up this list, "Someday I Will Treat You Good" instantly popped into my head. There's no song that better portrays being alone than one that explains how the protagonist isn't quite ready for love. Mark Linkous -- who recorded four albums as Sparklehorse -- had his most recognized hit with this bittersweet song. "Someday," while it paints a lonely picture, at least has the hope of that one, final day.
"I Better Be Quiet Now" -- Elliott Smith
The final artist of my three "Died Far Too Soon" musician arc, Elliott Smith is no stranger to sad, somber music. "I Better Be Quiet Now" -- from his brilliant 2000 album Figure 8 has the distinction of being quite possibly his most sad song. The song opens with the lyric "Wish you gave me your number / Wish I could call you today / Just to hear a voice / I got a long way to go / I'm getting further away," it's plain to see just how lonely Smith felt.
"Longview" -- Green Day
Not all songs about loneliness have to be super sad, mellow songs about heartbreak and alienation. Some songs can actually celebrate being alone, and what better way to celebrate loneliness than with some good, old-fashioned masturbation? Green Day's 1994 break-out hit "Longview" is a song dedicated to the art of self-pleasure. Being forever alone definitely has its bonuses, but be warned -- "When masturbation's lost it's fun / you're fucking lonely."