One Of The Living

Album: Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
Charted: 55 15
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Songfacts®:

  • Holly Knight wrote "One Of The Living" for Tina Turner to sing in the 1985 movie Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, where she stars as Aunty Entity opposite Mel Gibson. The song opens the film and was released as the second single from the soundtrack, following the other song Turner recorded for the project, "We Don't Need Another Hero."
  • Holly Knight wrote the song after reading the script for the movie, which is set in an apocalyptic landscape where few are left alive. The line "one of the living" isn't in the script. Knight came up with it based on a quote from Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev, who in discussing the outcome of a nuclear war, said, "The living will envy the dead." Knight also read the works of astronomer Carl Sagan, who wrote about the subject.

    This line in the song shows up in the verse lyric, "They always said that the living would envy the dead." Knight altered it a bit to create the title and refrain, "One Of The Living."
  • This was the second Holly Knight song Tina Turner recorded. The first was "Better Be Good To Me," which Knight originally recorded with her band Spider in 1981. Turner's cover was part of her big comeback, included on her 1984 album Private Dancer. Turner's next project was Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome; her manager, Roger Davies, asked Knight to write the song.

    After Knight wrote and demoed the song, Davies delivered it to Turner, who loved it. They ended up flying Knight to London, where she and Turner worked out the key. This was the first time they met; Turner ended up recording six more Holly Knight songs, including "The Best."
  • When writing a song for a movie, writers often use the title of the film or lines from the script in the lyrics ("Eye Of The Tiger," for example). But Holly Knight prefers not to. She told Songfacts: "Unless they specifically say they want the title to be something from the movie, like the title of the movie, I try not to because it's very limiting, because if they don't use it then I'm stuck with the name of a movie that I can't use."
  • Tina Turner plays guitar in the video and on the cover of the single, but she didn't really play it on the track. Gene Black was the guitarist, Holly Knight played keyboards, and Tim Cappello took the saxophone solo.
  • In 1986, the song won the Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.

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