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"One of Us" is a song written by Eric Bazilian (of The Hooters) and originally released by Joan Osborne. Released in March 1995 on the album Relish and produced by Rick Chertoff, it became a Top 40 hit in November of that year. The song is the theme song for the American television series Joan of Arcadia. The song was nominated for three Grammysand peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100, but Osborne was unable to repeat the success and is considered a one-hit wonder.

History[]

In an interview, Bazilian said, "I wrote ['One of Us'] one night — the quickest song I ever wrote — to impress a girl. Which worked, because we're married and have two kids. But we were in the middle of writing Joan's album, which was a group effort with Rick Chertoff and Joan and Rob and I, and I did a demo of 'One of Us,' this wacky little demo which I ended up putting as a hidden track on the CD of my first solo record, and I played [it] for them. And it really hadn't even occurred to me that it was something that Joan might do, but Rick, in his wisdom, asked Joan if she thought she could sing it. And I think it was better that he asked it that way rather than 'Do you want to sing it?' Because the answer to that might not have been yes. But she definitely said she could sing it, and we did a little live demo of a guitar and her singing it. And when I got into my car and popped the cassette in, I started practicing the Grammy speech that I should've gotten to give."[1]

Lyrics[]

The song deals with various aspects of belief in God by asking questions inviting the listener to consider how they might relate to God, such as "Would you call [God's name] to his face?" or "Would you want to see [God's face] if seeing meant that you would have to believe in things like heaven and in Jesus and the saints and all the prophets?" The title of the song comes from religious statement, "What if God was one of us?"

The album version starts off with the first four lines of a recording titled "The Aeroplane Ride", made on October 27, 1937 by American folklorist Alan Lomax and his wife Elizabeth for the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress, of Mrs. Nell Hampton of Salyersville, Kentucky singing a variation of the 1928 John S. McConnell hymn "Heavenly Aeroplane".[2][3]

Music video[]

Directed by Mark Seliger and Fred Woodward, the video was mainly shot on Coney Island, with various attractions like rollercoastersferris wheels and the New York Aquarium shown, interchanged with the vintage-looking shots in sepia and Joan singing in front of the camera.

Critical reception[]

Roch Parisien called the song "a simple, direct statement of faith, honest and unadorned, one framed in a near-perfect chorus and delectable Neil Young-ish guitar riff."[4] In 2007, the song was ranked at #54 on "VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 90's"[5] and #10 on the network's 40 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 90's.

Track listings[]

  1. "One of Us" (single edit) - 5:05
CD single - France
  1. "One of Us" (edit) — 4:16
  2. "One of Us" (album version) — 5:21
CD single - USA
  1. "One of Us" (Album Version) — 5:21
  2. "Dracula Moon" — 6:21
CD maxi single - Europe
  1. "One of Us" (edit) — 4:16
  2. "Dracula Moon" — 6:21
  3. "One of Us" (album version) — 5:21
  4. "Crazy Baby" (live from Fox Theatre) — 8:06

Personnel[]

Accolades, chart performances and sales[]

The song received Grammy nominations in 1996 for Best Female Pop Vocal PerformanceRecord of the Year, and Song of the Year.

In January 1996, "One of Us" hit the top 10, peaking at number four on the Billboard Hot 100.

Appearances in other media[]

Cover versions and parodies[]

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