Owner of a Lonely Heart

Owner of a Lonely Heart
"Owner of a Lonely Heart"
Single by Yes
from the album 90125
B-side "Our Song"
Released 5 November 1983
Format 7" vinyl, 12" vinyl
Recorded 1983
Genre Pop rock
Length 4:29 (album version)
3:50 (single version)
Label Atco
Writer(s) Trevor Rabin, Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Trevor Horn
Producer Trevor Horn
Yes singles chronology
"Into the Lens"
"Owner of a Lonely Heart"
"Leave It"
90125 track listing
"Owner of a Lonely Heart"
"Hold On"
Music sample
"Owner of a Lonely Heart"

"Owner of a Lonely Heart" is a song by the progressive rock band Yes. It is the opening track of their 1983 album 90125. Written primarily by Trevor Rabin, the song reached number one on the United States Billboard Hot 100[1] — to date Yes's biggest chart success. Since then, it has seen many releases; the original release had "Our Song" as the B-side, while others had various B-sides such as "Leave It", "Make It Easy", and remixes of this song.[2]


Music video

The song's music video, directed by Storm Thorgerson, received a great deal of airplay on MTV, introducing the revamped Yes lineup and sound to a new generation of fans largely unfamiliar with the band's very different earlier work, which had helped to define the genre of progressive rock. The video begins with the band playing on a sound stage rehearsing. Then the band stops and each member turns into a different animal. Then a bird flying over different areas and then cuts to an archetypal Everyman as he tries to make it through a day whilst being shocked by pseudo-psychotic flashes of being menaced by the various animals. He is brought to court by government-looking toughs, summarily thrown out of court and into a boiler room where he fights a bruiser, then runs onto the roof of the building. There, he is confronted by the various band members, shifting back and forth between human and animal guises, which drives him to leap from the building. The video then ends with the same man in the same crowd as at the beginning of the video, but instead he turns back, presumably to go home and avoid the day.

Notably, keyboardist Tony Kaye does not appear in the video. At the time of the video shoot, Eddie Jobson was standing in as the band's keyboardist. He can be seen briefly in a few quick shots, but he was not part of the video's "animal transformation" scene in which the other four band members take part. Ultimately, Kaye returned to the lineup, and it is not believed that Jobson ever recorded any material with the band.[3]

Another video was issued combining the rehearsal footage with some more of the less disturbing footage that was excised.

Remixes and pop culture influence

The biggest major legacy of the track is arguably the beginnings of ZTT Records and the electronic group The Art Of Noise; as well as being a former member of Yes, Trevor Horn served the role of one of the band's producers during the recording of 90125 and "Owner of a Lonely Heart". With him were Gary Langan, J.J. Jeczalik and Anne Dudley, all working with Horn as his production team, in the roles of engineers and arrangers. Taking samples and loops directly from these Yes recording sessions (as well as work done on Malcolm McLaren's Duck Rock), the team subsequently formed the Art Of Noise under the auspice of Trevor Horn, becoming the first signed act of his ZTT Records label. The crunching stabs, orchestral samples and thunderous drums of "Owner of a Lonely Heart" can be heard in the Art Of Noise's initial recordings.

"Owner of a Lonely Heart" has been remixed several times, most notably by Max Graham in April 2005; his version reached number nine in the UK Singles Chart[4] and the music video is still popular. 808 State also did remixes ('2 Close To the Edge Mix' and 'Not Fragile Mix'). and Kyper used riffs of the song in his own song "Tic-Tac-Toe". The title is also covered by 2 Ruff in year 1998. The song is also covered by Colin Blunstone, backed by an orchestra. Yet another remix was done in 2004 by Deep Dish. The track had also been sampled by the group Dubstar; a sample of the drum fill can be heard at the beginning of "No More Talk" (on their Goodbye album). Turkish electronic music singer Hande Yener has sampled "Owner of a Lonely Heart"s melody throughout her song Hipnoz. Also rapper Rufus Blaq sampled the main riff (but slowed it down) on the track "Make It Hot" from the 1998 album Credentials

Venezuelan rock band Caramelos de Cianuro quotes the main guitar riff of the song throughout their song "Baby Cohete" of their 2006 album Flor De Fuego.

Frank Zappa also incorporated parts of the song into the guitar solo of one of his own songs, "Bamboozled by Love" on his 1984 and 1988 tours (see You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 3).

On Yes' 35th Anniversary tour, "Owner of a Lonely Heart" was frequently played acoustically.

"Owner of a Lonely Heart" was featured on Flash FM, a radio station in video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

The song was afeatured in a D-TV music video on The Disney Channel, set entirely to clips from the 1936 cartoon Elmer Elephant.

An excerpt of "Owner of a Lonely Heart" is featured in Michael Jackson's "D.S." from his 1995 album, HIStory. The album focuses on Jackson's isolation after the then-recent child abuse allegations.

In an Episode of The Simpsons entitled "The Debarted" Homer does his own version of the song, singing "Driver of a loaner car", while driving a car on loan from a body shop.

Both hit shows Grey's Anatomy and Degrassi: The Next Generation named an episode after this song. Both shows are known to name their episodes after hit songs.

"Weird Al" Yankovic used a section of the song in his polka medley "Hooked on Polkas".

The song also appears in an episode of Knight Rider, starring David Hasselhoff.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 parodied the song, with Tom Servo pondering the implications of the song (Tom: "How does the (singing) "Owner of a lonely heart" (normal voice) compare to, say, the (singing) "Owner of a broken gas fireplace?" (Normal voice) Or for that matter, to the (singing) "Owner of a perfectly functional cheese slicer?" (Normal voice) As the (singing) "Owner of a lonely heart" (normal voice) how do I stack up against the (singing) "Owner of a pencil?" I mean, come on, Yes!"), then Mike and the bots were constantly assaulted by the orchestral hit.

Cover versions include a soft jazz one by Icelandic duo Kristjana & Agnar on their album Ég um þig (Me for you) and Brooklyn indie band Grizzly Bear on their EP Sorry for the Delay.

The Atlanta-based rapper E-Dubb's debut single "Whooty (White Girl with a Booty)" has a riff that mimicks the Yes song, but later re-released with a similar sounding riff.

The "Class President" episode of Everybody Hates Chris features this song.

Two characters in the movie The Break-Up sing the song at a dinner. The song is included on an album of music from the movie.

According to The Roots Questlove, "Owner of a Lonely Heart" contained the first use of a sample as a breakbeat (as opposed to a sound effect). Yes incorporated five seconds of Funk Inc's "Kool is Back" (1972), itself a cover of Kool and the Gang's "Kool is Back". [5]


"Owner of a Lonely Heart" was, according to a radio interview with Yes in 1991 (with the Union tour), originally written as a ballad, not as the rock song that became famous. Jon Anderson convinced producer Trevor Horn to speed it up and add some guitar riffs to make it stand out and be more "upbeat". However, as the next paragraph states, Trevor Rabin had already recorded an upbeat demo version of this song before Jon Anderson and Trevor Horn joined the 90125 project, so this story is probably not true.

An extremely raw demo version of the song can be found on Rabin's album 90124, with a different pre-chorus verse and a jazz fusion keyboard solo reminiscent of Chick Corea.

The orchestra and drum samples were lifted from Funk, Inc.'s "Kool is Back".

Chart performance

Chart (1983/1984) Peak
UK Singles Chart[6] 28
Austrian Singles Chart[7] 17
Dutch Top 40[8] 2
Irish Singles Chart[9] 30
New Zealand Singles Chart[10] 16
Norwegian Singles Chart[11] 6
Swedish Singles Chart[12] 4
Swiss Singles Chart[13] 11
US Billboard Hot 100[1] 1
US Billboard Top Rock Tracks[1] 1
US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play[1] 3
Preceded by
"Say Say Say" by Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
21 January-28 January 1984
Succeeded by
"Karma Chameleon" by Culture Club
Preceded by
"Heart and Soul" by Huey Lewis and the News
Billboard Top Rock Tracks number-one single
26 November-17 December 1983
Succeeded by
"If I'd Been the One" by 38 Special

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "Yes > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". Allmusic. http://www.allmusic.com/artist/p5891. Retrieved 19 December 2009 (2009-12-19). 
  2. ^ Yesworld Yes official site, retrieved 25 December 2006.
  3. ^ "Edwin "Eddie" Jobson: Miscellaneous information". http://www.cogs.susx.ac.uk/users/ronc/itdon/jobsonmisc.html. Retrieved 19 December 2009 (2009-12-19). 
  4. ^ "Chart Stats - Max Graham Vs Yes - Owner Of A Lonely Heart". http://www.chartstats.com/songinfo.php?id=783. Retrieved 19 December 2009 (2009-12-19). 
  5. ^ Rhodes, C., & Westwood, R. I. (2008). Critical representations of work and organization in popular culture. London: Routledge. p 177
  6. ^ "Chart Stats - Yes - Owner Of A Lonely Heart". http://www.chartstats.com/songinfo.php?id=11139. Retrieved 19 December 2009 (2009-12-19). 
  7. ^ "Yes - Owner Of A Lonely Heart - austriancharts.at (German)". http://austriancharts.at/showitem.asp?interpret=Yes&titel=Owner+Of+A+Lonely+Heart&cat=s. Retrieved 19 December 2009 (2009-12-19). 
  8. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 - week 50, 1983". http://www.top40.nl/index.aspx?week=50&jaar=1983. Retrieved 19 December 2009 (2009-12-19). 
  9. ^ "irishcharts.ie search results". http://www.irishcharts.ie/search/placement. Retrieved 19 December 2009 (2009-12-19). 
  10. ^ "charts.org.nz - Yes - Owner Of A Lonely Heart". http://charts.org.nz/showitem.asp?interpret=Yes&titel=Owner+Of+A+Lonely+Heart&cat=s. Retrieved 19 December 2009 (2009-12-19). 
  11. ^ "norwegiancharts.com - Yes - Owner Of A Lonely Heart". http://norwegiancharts.com/showitem.asp?interpret=Yes&titel=Owner+Of+A+Lonely+Heart&cat=s. Retrieved 19 December 2009 (2009-12-19). 
  12. ^ "swedishcharts.com - Yes - Owner Of A Lonely Heart". http://swedishcharts.com/showitem.asp?interpret=Yes&titel=Owner+Of+A+Lonely+Heart&cat=s. Retrieved 19 December 2009 (2009-12-19). 
  13. ^ "Yes - Owner Of A Lonely Heart - hitparade.ch (German)". http://hitparade.ch/showitem.asp?interpret=Yes&titel=Owner+Of+A+Lonely+Heart&cat=s. Retrieved 19 December 2009 (2009-12-19). 

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