Scott Andrew

Gnarled JavaScript warlock, musician, '80s D&D nerd, and cartoonist.

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This is an archived blog post that was posted on April 11, 2021.

The Number Ones: Yes’ “Owner Of A Lonely Heart”

I've written about Yes' "Owner of a Lonely Heart" before. This Stereogum article by Tom Breihan is an amazing deep-dive into that song. There are too many great sentences to quote:

“Owner Of A Lonely Heart” is a craven pop-chart move from a band who’d previously specialized in exploratory, filigreed pomp-rock. It’s a total betrayal of everything that the band had done before. Not coincidentally, it also kicks ass. Sometimes, things work out like that.

The possibly-apocryphal story on “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” is that Trevor Rabin didn’t even think of it as a Yes song, but that he’d gotten up to go to the bathroom while playing a demo tape of his songs for the rest of the band. Trevor Horn heard “Lonely Heart” and decided that it could be a Yes song. I don’t know if this story is true, but I love the idea that all the most important moments in the song’s evolution happened because Trevor Rabin was taking a shit.

There's also a bit on how “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” used a sampled breakbeat from a Kool & The Gang song and basically invented the orchestra "stab" that was so popular in the 80s. The article concludes with a list of rap and R&B songs that sampled “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” in turn.

Some related emphemera I dug up:

Trevor Rabin, who wrote "Owner of a Lonely Heart," shows how to play the sci-fi guitar solo:

Producer Trevor Horn walks through some of the soloed instrument tracks and "whiz-bangs." Utterly charming:

Yes perform "Owner of a Lonely Heart" at their Rock & Roll Hall induction: