- One of Us (Joan Osborne song)
"One of Us" Single by Joan Osborne from the album Relish Released February 21, 1995
December 28, 1995 (re-release)
Genre Rock Length 5:21 (Album Version)
Label Blue Gorilla
Writer(s) Eric Bazilian Producer Music sampleOne Of Us
"One of Us" is a song written by Eric Bazilian (of The Hooters) and originally released by Joan Osborne. Released in March 1995 on the album Relish and produced by Rick Chertoff, it became a top 40 hit in November of that year.
Bazilian discussed the song in an interview, saying "I wrote that song one night — the quickest song I ever wrote — to impress a girl. Which worked, because we’re married and have two kids. But we were in the middle of writing Joan’s album, which was a group effort with Rick Chertoff and Joan and Rob and I, and I did a demo of “One of Us,” this wacky little demo which I ended up putting as a hidden track on the CD of my first solo record, and I played [it] for them. And it really hadn’t even occurred to me that it was something that Joan might do, but Rick, in his wisdom, asked Joan if she thought she could sing it. And I think it was better that he asked it that way rather than “Do you want to sing it?” Because the answer to that might not have been yes. But she definitely said she could sing it, and we did a little live demo of a guitar and her singing it. And when I got into my car and popped the cassette in, I started practicing the Grammy speech that I should’ve gotten to give."
The song deals with various aspects of belief in God by asking questions inviting the listener to consider how they might relate to God, such as "Would you call [God's name] to his face?" or "Would you want to see [God's face] if seeing meant that you would have to believe in things like heaven and in Jesus and the saints and all the prophets?" The title of the song comes from the refrain, "What if God was one of us?"
The album version starts off with four lines from a Gospel music song "The Heavenly Aeroplane":
- Oh, one of these nights at about twelve o'clock
- This whole earth is gonna reel and rock
- Saints will tremble and cry for pain
- For the Lord's gonna come in his heaven airplane.
Directed by Mark Seliger and Fred Woodward, the video was mainly shot on Coney Island, with various attractions like rollercoasters, ferris wheels and the New York Aquarium shown, interchanged with the vintage-looking shots in sepia and Joan singing in front of the camera.
In 1996, William A. Donohue, president of the Catholic League, took issue with the song. Because "even [Joan Osborne's] admirers see something of the sacrilegious in her work", Donohue claimed the song was agenda-driven and danced "awfully close to the line of Catholic baiting". On the other hand, Roch Parisien called the song "a simple, direct statement of faith, honest and unadorned, one framed in a near-perfect chorus and delectable Neil Young-ish guitar riff." In 2007, the song was ranked at #54 on "VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 90's".
- CD single - France
- "One of Us" (edit) — 4:16
- "One of Us" (album version) — 5:21
- CD single - USA
- "One of Us" (Album Version) — 5:21
- "Dracula Moon" — 6:21
- CD maxi single - Europe
- "One of Us" (edit) — 4:16
- "Dracula Moon" — 6:21
- "One of Us" (album version) — 5:21
- "Crazy Baby" (live from Fox Theatre) — 8:06
- Joan Osborne – vocals, percussion, acoustic guitar
- Eric Bazilian – guitar, mandolin, chant, saxophone, harmonica, electric piano
- Mark Egan – bass
- Rob Hyman – piano, organ, synthesizer, Mellotron, backing vocals, drums
- Andy Kravitz – drums, percussion
Awards, chart performances and sales
In January 1996, "One of Us" hit the top 10, peaking at number four on the Billboard Hot 100.
Australia (ARIA) 1 Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 75) 13 Belgium (Ultratop 40 Wallonia) 4 Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders) 1 Canadian Adult Contemporary (RPM) 5 Canadian Rock/Alternative (RPM) 1 Canadian Top Singles (RPM) 1 Finland (Suomen virallinen lista) 19 France (SNEP) 10 Germany (Media Control AG) 18 Ireland (Irish Singles Chart) 8 Netherlands (Dutch Top 40) 12 Netherlands (Mega Single Top 100) 14 New Zealand (RIANZ) 11 Norway (VG-lista) 2 Sweden (Sverigetopplistan) 1 UK Singles (The Official Charts Company) 6 US Adult Contemporary (Billboard) 20 US Adult Pop Songs (Billboard) 16 US Alternative Songs (Billboard) 7 US Billboard Hot 100 4 US Pop Songs (Billboard) 2
Chart (1996) Position Australian Singles Chart 6 Belgian (Flanders) Singles Chart 8 Belgian (Wallonia) Singles Chart 16 Dutch Top 40 69 French Singles Chart 55 US Billboard Hot 100 30
Country Certification Date Sales certified Norway Platinum 1996 10,000 US Gold January 26, 1996 500,000
Appearances in other media
- The theme song for the CBS television series Joan of Arcadia is a version of "One of Us" re-recorded by Osborne specifically for the show
Cover versions and parodies
- Prince covered the song on his Emancipation album, changing the phrase "just a slob" to "just a slave like one of us".
- Brad Roberts of the Crash Test Dummies recorded a cover of the song.
- In 1997, the rock group Zilch (later called SONICFLOOd) pondered the song on their tune "In The Sky" with the line, "...she asked if God was just a slob like us, well maybe something there is lacking".
- Dance covers of the song have been recorded by various artists, including Outta Control, Nasara, and Pariz.
- An R&B style cover of the song by Cheryl Pepsii Riley was featured in the film Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005).
- Martyn Joseph recorded a version of this song.
- Gregorian covered the song in their 2007 album Masters of Chant Chapter VI.
- Bob Rivers wrote the parody What if God Smoked Cannabis? in 1997. (Often incorrectly attributed to Weird Al Yankovic )
- Theo Tams covered the song on his tour.
- In 2009, Rivers Cuomo, Joe LoPiccolo, and Rainn Wilson collaborated on a cover for Sirius XM radio.
- Indiana Gregg included a cover of this song on her album Woman at Work
- The Italian singer Eugenio Finardi has recorded an Italian cover titled "Uno di noi" (One of us in Italian) in 1996
- The German singer Klaus Lage recorded a German cover titled "Was wenn Gott" in 2003.
- Another German version, "Einer wie wir", 2007 by Erdmöbel has been performed by the Hooters themselves during recent German and European tours.
- Jermaine Sellers sang his version of "One of Us" as his first audition in front of the judges on American Idol Season 9.
- In 2001, Chihiro Onitsuka covered this song at a special live.
- The song is covered on the Glee episode "Grilled Cheesus".
- German singer/songwriter Stefan Stoppok published his version of the song in 2000, with him performing together with bassist Reggie Worthy.
- In 2011, Singapore singer - Kit Chan covered this song in her comeback album (Re-interpreting '重譯').
- List of number-one singles in Australia during the 1990s
- List of RPM Rock/Alternative number-one singles (Canada)
- List of Swedish number-one hits
- Ultratop 50 number-one hits of 1996
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- ^ Roch Parisien. "Joan Osborne - Relish - Review". http://www.allmusic.com/album/relish-r212566/review.
- ^ 100 Greatest Songs of the '90s
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- ^ "Charts.org.nz – Joan Osborne – One of Us". Top 40 Singles. Hung Medien.
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- ^ 1996 Australian Singles Chart aria.com (Retrieved September 5, 2008)
- ^ 1996 Belgian (Flanders) Singles Chart Ultratop.be (Retrieved September 5, 2008)
- ^ 1996 Belgian (Wallonia) Singles Chart Ultratop.be (Retrieved September 5, 2008)
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- ^ The Not Al Page
- ^ http://bumpshack.com/2010/01/14/jermaine-sellers-american-idol-9-what-if-god-was-one-of-us-video/ Jermaine Sellers American Idol Season 9 "What If God Was One of Us Video" (Retrieved January 25, 2010)
- ^ Malkin, Mark (September 29, 2010). "Hallelujah? Glee Has a Spiritual Awakening". E! Online. E!. http://eonline.com/uberblog/marc_malkin/b203006_hallelujah_glee_has_spiritual_awakening.html. Retrieved September 29, 2010.
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