Lonely at the Top

Album: Sail Away (1972)
Play Video


  • This 2:32 track finds Newman in character as successful singer who despite the money and adulation, isn't happy. Newman wrote it for Frank Sinatra; both were signed to Warner Bros. Records, which was looking to find Sinatra a hit. The song is essentially a satire of Sinatra's image; it didn't fly with Old Blue Eyes, so Newman cut it himself for his album Sail Away.

    Speaking with Rolling Stone, Newman explained: "I thought - maybe stupidly - that he would be ready to make fun of that leaning-against-the-lamp-post s--t: 'Oh, I'm so lonely and miserable and the biggest singer in the world.' I never bought that part of him. I thought he'd appreciate that. I played it for him, at his office on the Warner Bros. lot. His reaction? Nothing. He said, 'Next.' I also played 'I Think It's Going to Rain Today.' He said, 'I like that one.' But he couldn't hide his bitterness at young people's music."
  • Mojo magazine September 2008 asked Newman if he was concerned that Sinatra might take offense at this song's mockery of his public image that he'd carefully built over decades. He replied: "Yeah, it's amazing that I thought he'd do it, and I actually played it for him. But I think he was intelligent enough to laugh at the whole premise of the rich guy at the top who's lonely and unhappy. I played it for Streisand and she said, 'Well ha ha…' She liked it but thought people would believe she meant it. And it suddenly dawns on me that's why I'll never exactly win the love of the American public! They want artists to mean what they say! I don't give them that; I'm interested in something else. I like the way I write and wouldn't change it."


Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Def Leppard Quiz

Def Leppard QuizMusic Quiz

Can you name Def Leppard's only #1 hit in America? Get rocked with this adrenalized quiz.

Ron and Russell Mael of Sparks

Ron and Russell Mael of SparksSongwriter Interviews

The men of Sparks on their album Hippopotamus, and how Morrissey handled it when they suggested he lighten up.

Songs About Movies

Songs About MoviesSong Writing

Iron Maiden, Adele, Toto, Eminem and Earth, Wind & Fire are just some of the artists with songs directly inspired by movies - and not always good ones.

Mac Powell of Third Day

Mac Powell of Third DaySongwriter Interviews

The Third Day frontman talks about some of the classic songs he wrote with the band, and what changed for his solo country album.

Evolution Of The Prince Symbol

Evolution Of The Prince SymbolSong Writing

The evolution of the symbol that was Prince's name from 1993-2000.

Mike Campbell

Mike CampbellSongwriter Interviews

Mike is lead guitarist with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, and co-writer of classic songs like "Boys Of Summer," "Refugee" and "The Heart Of The Matter."