"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 Holland.[1]

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

Original recording by Love[edit source | editbeta]Edit

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 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, 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 aTijuana 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 B-side was Lee's "A House Is Not A Motel." A remixed mono version of "A House Is Not A Motel" was released as a promo single by Elektra in 1970). "Alone Again Or", in an edited version in early 1968, initially peaked nationally at No. 123, and at #7 on 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."

The test of time has shown that MacLean’s composition (as well as the recording itself) has become a true classic. In 2010, "Alone Again Or" came in at No. 442 in a poll of the 500 greatest songs of all time conducted by Rolling Stone magazine (it was No.436 in the 2004 poll).

Critic Billy Altman, wrote the following of “Forever Changes” for "One of rock's most overlooked masterpieces, this third album by the L.A. folk-rock outfit led by inscrutable singer-songwriter Arthur Lee sounds as fresh and innovative today as it did upon its original release in 1968. … (it features) songs that are as sonically subtle and lilting as they are lyrically blunt and harrowing. Add two gems by Love's secret weapon, second guitarist Bryan MacLean ('Alone Again Or' and 'Old Man'), and you've got one of the truly perfect albums in rock history."

In 1997 Sundazed released the CD "Ifyoubelievein," which contains two demo versions of "Alone Again Or" featuring MacLean on acoustic guitar (it also contains a demo of "Old Man" recorded in 1966). "(It's), in a sense, the Love record that never was," wrote Rolling Stone's David Fricke of the CD. "Solo demos and home recordings of fourteen original MacLean songs, all written in the earliest and most vital years of Love and all but three virtually unheard in any form since MacLean wrote them."

The song has been featured in several motion pictures, most notably two from 1996: Bottle Rocket and Sleepers. It also 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.

Single by The Damned[edit source | editbeta]Edit

"Alone Again Or"
Single by The Damned
from the album Anything
B-side "In Dulce Decorum (Live)"
Released 6 April 1987
Format CD7"12"
Recorded DenmarkHammersmith 1986
Genre Psychedelic rock
Length 3:38
Label MCA


Producer Jon Kelly
The Damned singles chronology


"Alone Again Or"


"In Dulce Decorum"


"Alone Again Or" was a single released by The Damned in 1987. They recorded it as an acknowledgement of one of their influences, 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 #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 USA, 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.

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