Alone Again (Naturally)

On Fridays, I usually post an upbeat song to ring in the weekend.

While driving to an appointment with my sweety earlier this week, the poignant Gilbert O’Sullivan song “Alone Again (Naturally)” played on SiriusXM radio’s The Bridge stream. I don’t know if we’ve ever heard it together before, but the other day I was overcome by a recollection associated to the song. So I told her about how the song carries a childhood memory; and how it’s difficult to remember what the specific memory is, but there’s a sad association to it. (I was thinking for a while that it might have marked the day I learned as a child that we all die. But that lesson would have been in the late 1960s, well before O’Sullivan released this song.)

Today, as I started the car to drive out of the city and attend the memorial service of a friend, “Alone Again (Naturally)” had just started playing on SiriusXM radio’s The Bridge. It was like a “Zen slap” — the Universe was telling me what song to share today…

We drove out, parked, and took our places, safely separated from others, standing out on the flatness of prairie, under a bleak sky and with a drop in temperature being carried on gusty winds casting a lingering chill on us. When the service concluded, Sweety and I spoke with the surviving family, who are utterly shattered in their loss. So much grief, so heavy, inconsolable. It leaves one with a helpless feeling, knowing words cannot take away the heartbreak. And at the same time, silence doesn’t help, so one finds words, imperfect as those might be. Maybe words we’d like to hear ourselves, were we the ones sitting at the front, tearily facing the photo and interred remains of a formerly vibrant, affable, memorable human being whose earthly voice is forever quieted but whose image lives on through memories, the person’s creative works, and family photographs; all these visions cruel yet reliable, cherished reminders of the person’s vitality. A life of service to others in so many more ways than just completing a day’s work.

“In a little while from now
If I’m not feeling any less sour
I promise myself to treat myself
And visit a nearby tower

And climbing to the top
Will throw myself off
In an effort to make clear to whomever
What it’s like when you’re shattered

Left standing in the lurch
At a church where people saying
My God, that’s tough, she stood him up
No point in us remaining

We may as well go home
As I did on my own
Alone again, naturally

To think that only yesterday
I was cheerful, bright and gay
Looking forward to, well, who wouldn’t do
The role I was about to play

But as if to knock me down
Reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch
Cut me into little pieces

Leaving me to doubt
Talk about God in His mercy
Who, if He really does exist
Why did He desert me?

And in my hour of need
I truly am, indeed
Alone again, naturally

It seems to me that there are more hearts
Broken in the world that can’t be mended
Left unattended
What do we do?
What do we do?

Alone again, naturally

Now, looking back over the years
And whatever else that appears
I remember I cried when my father died
Never wishing to hide the tears

And at sixty-five years old
My mother, God rest her soul
Couldn’t understand why the only man
She had ever loved had been taken

Leaving her to start
With a heart so badly broken
Despite encouragement from me
No words were ever spoken

And when she passed away
I cried and cried all day
Alone again, naturally
Alone again, naturally”

(“Alone Again [Naturally], by Gilbert O’Sullivan. Unofficial lyrics courtesy of AZLyrics.com.)

One of our dear ones called today to share a happy message as well as a couple of challenges the week had brought. The opportunity to give a little help came so easily, and on the way to do that, it struck me how fortunate Sweety and I are to witness the joys and sorrows of our loved ones, while knowing others are grieving the loss of that daily, earthly presence.

I wish you a good weekend. A clichéd statement has smothered the past year-and-a-half with the syrupy, “We’re all in this together.” The thing is, it’s true. We are. Naturally.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here.

O’Sullivan released the single “Alone Again (Naturally)” in 1972, the year he released the album Back to Front. (The original record doesn’t contain today’s selection, but a later, remastered release of the album does.)

Here’s the audio for the song from Gilbert O’Sullivan’s official YouTube channel:

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