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Monday, March 4, 2013


Gilbert O'Sullivan is, no questions asked, the greatest singer/songwriter of the seventies. I have to say seventies because I haven't heard anything lately from him and that's a shame, because I really love his work. It's not a matter of good or bad music or what is right or wrong with the lyrics or chords. Mr. Sullivan has produced a brilliant body of work for our souls, and every song seems to be better than the previous one. In order to tell us intimate, sad stories by looking like a clown, he's also the ultimate Rock And Roll Jester.

Now, this is serious 70's shit: The first time I listened to a Gilbert O'Sullivan song was in 1990, on a car AM radio. It was "Alone Again (Naturally)," and I thought "hey, this must be the new Paul McCartney single or something". The truth is, both Macca and Gilbert have pretty similar voices and their compositions are, say, beatlesque.

Gilbert O'Sullivan deserved more hits on U.S. and a career like Elton John's. He had a lot of hits in UK, but sometimes America "makes" the artists to be successful in England; i.e. Beatles and Stones. Gilbert is still an unknown troubadour for many Classic Rock fans, and if they know him, they do because of his "Alone Again (Naturally)", a depressing song about an orphaned and dumped-at-the-wedding guy who wants to kill himself, and "Claire", a tune about a girl who plays house with her uncle. Uh-huh, the puritans from the West weren't ready for this kind of humor, therefore, Gilbert was a bigger success on the other side of the Atlantic.

O'Sullivan is just amazing in single form: "Nothing Rhymed", "Out Of The Question", "Get Down", "Ooh Baby", "Happiness is Me and You" were charted singles in U.S.A., along with "Clair" and the #1 hit "Alone Again (Naturally)". In the U.K. he was bigger, and he is deeply loved in Japan. Try finding his records and you'll get just expensive Japanese imports.

1991's Best Of Gilbert O'Sullivan is one of the best CDs ever assembled in the short history of compact disc manufacturing. Every song is, as I said, better than the one before and the album maintains a consistency based on the songs, little three-minute operas with an intimate look at the human being but with an ironic twist. On "Matrimony," Gilbert tells his fianceé he's her new daddy, and he knows how to rock, even tho they hid the relationship from their parents. I am totally identified with Gilbert in songs like "No Matter How I Try" and "Out Of The Question," where the beautiful piano chords just send us right into complicated relationships that make us think about how we measure love in real life: is it by the number of tears we shed? Or is it by those joyful but forgettable moments? Somehow Gilbert holds the key to help us with depression.

I would love to sit down and talk to Mr. O'Sullivan and ask about his songs, about his work and how was he inspired to create such human songs. When he dresses with a Chaplin jacket and trousers and sings "Nothing Rhymed" he might look funny, but his songs are deep serious analysis of the human pathos, with lots of sugar in it and a McCartney touch. That's why every time I listen to his "Best Of" CD I feel I grew up a little more as a person.

His greatest hit: "Alone Again (Naturally):"


Javier Lishner said...

Nice article about one of the greatest artist of the seventies. I remember buying the single "Claire", and before of that listening to the successful "Alone Again (Naturally)", which was one of the first songs I ever heard when I started listening to the radio.
Gilbert O'Sullivan was many times the cover of the most important music magazines.
Great tribute to Mr. O'Sullivan!