Owner Of A Lonely Heart
by Yes

Album: 90125 (1983)
Charted: 28 1


  • This song describes the paradox of loneliness. Once you've been hurt, loneliness is better than a broken heart.
  • This is the first single from 90125, and was the group's one and only #1 charting hit. The album was a drastic departure from Yes' progressive sound in the '70s, containing distorted guitar and synthesizers that were popular at the time. With help from MTV, Yes suddenly found a new audience, who were sometimes shocked to learn that much of their back catalog consisted of complex pieces that would often run well over 10 minutes.
  • Those familiar with the Yes catalog were shocked to hear this tightly packaged concoction from the band that once released a double album containing just four songs (Tales from Topographic Oceans). This was a different variation of the band, however, and they weren't opposed to chasing a hit. "It was already deemed to be a hit record," Jon Anderson said in a Songfacts interview. "The record company had invested a lot of money in making a record. They brought me in to make it Yes. They said, 'This is going to be a hit, and we're going to make sure.' They promoted it like crazy and did a good video - MTV had just started up. So everything just sort of happened at the same time."

    The driving force at Yes' label, Atlantic Records, was Ahmet Ertegun, who insisted that this song be a hit. Ertegun held considerable sway, having guided the careers of Aretha Franklin, Led Zeppelin, and many other major acts.
  • This was written by Yes members Jon Anderson, Trevor Horn, Trevor Rabin and Chris Squire. It was sung by Anderson, who had just returned to the group since leaving in 1980. He told Songfacts about his role in writing it: "The song was already finished, but there were no verses. They had tried some verses and it really wasn't working. They had the chorus, they had the arrangement. I came in and all the songs were virtually put together, but there was a lack of choruses here, verses there. I went in for three weeks with Trevor and sort of filled everything in.

    I remember sitting with Trevor Rabin and we started off, 'Move yourself, you always live your life never thinking of the future.' That was the line I wrote. And then he'd say, 'Prove yourself, win or loser.' And then he said, 'Jon, I've got to go. You carry on.' So I just carried on writing the lyrics to the verses. The chorus was already well organized by Trevor."
  • According to Trevor Rabin on the DVD Yes Video Hits, he wrote the bass line to this song and came up with the title in his bathroom (which had very good acoustics), during a "particularly long visit." Rabin says he often sings in the loo. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Evna - São Paulo, Brazil
  • Trevor Horn, formerly of the Buggles, produced the 90125 album. Horn took over for Jon Anderson as lead singer of Yes for for their 1980 album Drama, and after a tour to support the album the band broke up and Horn focused on production work. When Yes re-formed for 90125, Anderson returned along with Tony Kaye, Chris Squire and Alan White, and Horn produced the album. This song hit #1 in the US the week of January 21, 1984, and held the position the following week, when in the UK another Horn-produced song, "Relax" by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, claimed the top spot. This made Horn the only producer to have simultaneous #1 hits in both the UK and the US with different songs by different artists.
  • This song is possibly the first rock hit to use a sample. The drum break at the beginning and the horn stab that shows up a few times in the song sound very similar to a short section of the 1971 song "Kool Is Back" by Funk, Inc.

    It was a rather subtle sample, as producer Trevor Horn used just a tiny bit and processed it considerably, so there is no case for attribution. At the time, there was also no precedent for clearing samples.
  • The video was directed by the team of Aubrey Powell and Storm Thorgerson, who went by "Po & Storm." In it's full form, the video runs 6:46 and contains various non-musical scenes where the band members transform into different animals. MTV usually played the condensed version, but they played it often, as they were especially keen on rock bands in their early years.

    Storm Thorgerson is the same guy who did the artwork for Pink Floyd, including the Dark Side of the Moon album cover. He died on April 18, 2013.
  • 90125's logo was designed on an Apple IIe computer (very modern at the time,) and would be used on Yes' next album Big Generator. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Wil - Brentwood, TN
  • Alan White recalled the recording of his drum part for the track to Uncut magazine September 2014: "I started with a full drum kit and Trevor Horn said, 'Take Alan's toms away.' So I had a base and snare, hi-hat and cymbals. Then they took the cymbals away, I was playing along with the track and they took the hi-hat away! I said,'Wait a minute, guys...' Then we layered all the other stuff on top of it."
  • This song was once parodied on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Tom Servo thought Yes didn't go far enough by saying "The owner of a lonely heart is much better than the owner of a broken heart...". He wanted them to come up with a comparison between the owner of a broken heart and the owner of other various other things, like a perfectly functional cheese slicer, a pie, a pencil, etc. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Homer - Versailles, IL
  • Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman formed their own group in 2010, which has performed as both ARW and Yes Featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman. "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" has always been a centerpiece of their performances, with Rabin and Wakeman (using a keytar) often venturing into the audience when they play it in extended form. When Yes was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017, it was one of two songs they performed at the ceremony (along with "Roundabout"), with Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman sharing the stage with Steve Howe and Alan White, who led the official version of Yes. Hopes for a reconciliation were dashed when the two distinct versions of the band resumed operations soon after the ceremony.

Comments: 57

  • Josh from Tumwater WaI saw the actor being thrown inside elevator and why that happen?
  • Chris from Germany Again one song whose success came from MTV.

    In the UK where MTV came in 1987 the song was a Flop but in the US the programmers of MTV liked the video and the story. YES were one of those bands from the 70s who struggle with the 80s and had minor airplay on Radio. But the song changed everything.

    The song went to #1 on The Hot 100 and if you ask somebody in his 40s he will know this song.

    It was played on Everybody hates Chris.
  • Thom Thibeault from AlabamaI heard this song once in a Nashville recording studio on $50,000 speakers. It was the best experience I ever had listening to music. I wish everybody could have that experience.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 18th 1974, Yes appeared in concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City...
    At the time the group's sixth studio album 'Tales from Topographic Oceans' was working its way up Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart, and eventually it would peak at #6 {it would reached #1 on their native United Kingdom's Album chart}...
    And nine years and eight months later on October 30th, 1983 "Owner of a Lonely Heart" would enter Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #62; and on January 15th, 1984 it would peaked at #1 for two weeks.
  • Gino from HoustonNot to say too much about writing of a song, but music people always come to the person writing the hits for many others and searching for that potential beginning/ leading to a no.1 hit. I wrote a little part in this song, and the chorus can mean what it does to you because of all the writers on this song wrote a part with their meaning. This might sound odd, but I would say it is also better to have a lonely heart and look past any self indulgences, and not be a person who delivers someone to a broken heart.
  • Karol from Pori, FinlandWhat I appreciate in this track is the production and mastering. "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" still sounds modern and fresh after almost 30 years!
  • Guillermo from Caracas, VenezuelaA strange and sorpressive vocal arrangement of this song appears at the movie "Break up" from 2006 with Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn. This is a song that put Yes again on top and we loved it in the 80´s but to me it just fills a hole for fans in both Yes and Jon Anderson´s today shows.
  • Wendell from Milton, PeThis song was sampled by Kyper in tic tac toe. Which was about a guy who was scoring with all sorts of women. This may have been intentially done to show how pure sex doesn't
    stop a broken heart.Wendell Milton PEI
  • Myla from San Diego, CaI always thought the video had a "Kafkaesque" quality to it...especially when the protagonist was arrested for no reason, being led into a bureaucratic, Cold-war type courtroom, stressing the "lonely, man against the heartless world" motif of the song. Definitely one of my favorite videos as well as the song!
  • Lyndsey from Aitkin, MnThe first song I've ever heard by Yes, and still one of my favorites. It's impossible to not sing along when you hear it!
  • Randy from Rio De Janeiro, -There's one thing I appreciate a great deal about this song, the base is VERY prominent.
  • Smoothie from Chicago, IlHaving been the owner of both, I prefer the broken because at least you feel the love too.. Lonely is empty -- no feeling. How can that be better?
  • Guadalupe from Scurry, TxCorrection on the Cinema name. No they did not changed the name because someone already had the name. Here is the real story from Trevor Rabin. Trevor and Chris were in the studio working on new material. Jon had called Chris on the phone. Trevor told Chris why doesn't he invite Jon down to the studio to hear the new material. Jon came down and listen to the tracks and started to sing on them. Chris asked him to join the band. They decided since Jon is back they might as well call the band "Yes Again. If you do not believe this. Try and get a copy of "Yesyears" which is "RARE" and only on VHS and you can hear the whole story.
  • Greg from Dallas, TxIt is true, better to be lonely, than have a broken heart. There are many songs I like by Yes both before and after this song (and on the same album, "Leaving", "Changes", "Hearts"). But you know, I would not have even KNOWN ABOUT YES unless it were for this song.
  • Tom from Marble Falls, ArThis is one of those songs that sounded so cool I neither knew nor cared what the lyrics were. Great song!
  • Dee from Xenia, Ohawesome awesome song about a real human conflict. a testament to creativity and change. uncomplicated and real..sweet melody and easy to sing to. takes me back to my teens and the day when real talent reigned. besides, how many of you can say you sat in your bathroom and wrote a song that became a hit? it's easy to be critical. i don't like every song i hear either...but this is one i love.
  • Alf from Kingston, CanadaThis song is the best thing since sliced toast. Now I am hungry for toast :-)
  • K from Miami, FlIf there was a countdown of the best song of the 80's, this song would be somewhere in the top ten.
  • K from Miami, FlI think the song is the best thing the band has produced. It's their Stairway to Heaven. Very good song
  • Rick from Mount Ephraim, NjTrevor Rabin is so overrated and the stereotypical rock star. Personally, I have seen Jon Anderson do acoustic versions of this, and it's actually very, very good.

    90215 is a decent album, certainly not their best. As much as I am not a Rabin fan, I really do enjoy the "Talk" album.
  • Don from B G, KyGreat cowbell song. Which is better this or BLUE OYSTER CULT'S cowbell song DON'T FEAR THE REAPER?
  • Trevor from St. Augustine, FlHere's something to listen out for...Jon's vox are extremely wet (i.e., heavy with studio effects) for the the whole song, EXCEPT for the second "shake" in the line "Shake - shake yourself" where it is completely dry. I have always wondered what that's all about.
  • Evna from São Paulo, BrazilLike many songs in 90125, this one was written by Trevor Rabin, and later got some improvement - for the better, in my opinion. Rabin released an album called 90124, and Owner is there in its original version (as are Changes and Hold on).
    The new group would be called Cinema, but I read somewhere there was already a group with such name, so they decided to call it Yes because most of the members came from a former Yes lineup. This was, I think, a big mistake, because it was not their intention to restore the old group. I think Trevor Rabin has paid a very high price for this, with all the comparisons between him and Steve Howe, the criticism and full responsability for their "new sound" (well, I think all members have agreed to play his material, Trevor certainly did not point a gun to their heads!!!).
  • Corey from Barrie, OnI agree with many of the others. This song is nothing compared to their 70s stuff. I know I sound rather close-minded, but I just can't really get into 80s pop/dance stuff. Or 90s or now stuff either. I'm a flower child, what can I say?
  • Tim from Denver, CoThere was a lot of speculation back in the '80s about what the album title 90125 meant. Turns out, it was simply the catalog number given to the LP by Atlantic records.
  • Michael from OxfordI agree with everyone who believes that this song (and the whole "90125" album) is good for what it is. However, I too have to admit that it's just not as good "Close to the Edge"-era stuff. "Owner" isn't even the best song on the album - I personally prefer the much-overlooked "Hearts".
  • Wade from Vancouver, CanadaHow did such an amazing band end up making something so terrible?
  • Daniel from Perth, AustraliaYeah, the song's alright, but It's a shame that Yes didn't stick with their prog rock. Their 70's work was much better.
  • Luis from Madrid, SpainTony Kaye left the band while 90125 was being recorded. As a result, most keyboards are played by guitarist Trevor Rabin.

    Kaye was replaced by Eddie Jobson, who actually appears in the song video, if very briefly. But Kaye would eventually return, tour with the band and remain there for ten additional years.
  • Ryan from Marion, IaCertainly more pop-rock and less impressive than their 70s work, but that doesn't change the fact that this song rocks.
  • Justin from Albany, Nythis song is awesome. Although i do like their more prog rock music its still unbelievable
  • Ian from Huntington, Wvthis is a good Yes song, don't get me wrong, but I'm personally a much bigger fan of their 70's output
  • Jameson from Lexington, KyOne of my favorite songs of the 80s. To all those who think this song is somehow "inferior" to Yes' other work, get over it and enjoy a kick-butt song. I remember being in the school orchestra in junior high when this song came out; the whole class would jam to this before class started. I played cello, and the bassline was ours. Good times.
  • Farrah from Elon, NcI absolutely love this song. I also liked many of Yes's songs from the 70s.
  • Mike from Long Island, NyYes is one of my favorite bands of all time. This song is a piece of pop crap thinly disguised as prog. 90125, Big Generator, and Talk are insults to the musical prowess that is Yes.
  • Juan from Miami, FlIused to like this song a lot when I was into the 80's, but now I like more classic songs, one of them being Yes' Roundabout. Owner of the lonely is still a good song though, i like the breaks and the drum groove
  • Max from Sydney, AustraliaThe only thing i like about this WHOLE song...is the vidio...its interesting, my least favourite part is the sound affects when the guys going down the lift
  • Dennis from Anchorage, AkI have a hard time putting into words how tired I get of the pretentious prats who complain about how this song is somehow less valuable than Yes' other songs because it's in a more pop style. While it doesn't bounce around between unnecessarily complicated rhythms or make use of intentionally dissonant chords, and while the melody isn't deliberately difficult to sing or listen to, the music is skillfully executed and the song is about something real, even if it's not going out of its way to be somehow "important." The purpose of art is to reflect human experience, and human experience includes fun and love in addition to politics and philosophy. People who obsess on politics and philosophy and great literature and pay no attention to fun and love aren't better or smarter than others. In fact, they're quite the opposite - they're fools who are wasting their lives. The capacity for joy is one of the most important traits human beings have.
  • William from Montreal, CanadaTHIS SONGS DISTURBS ME!this and the rest of 90125 i'm now getting slowly over it but it stills haunts me to think the've gotten soooo low. It's like if AC/DC decided to do a love song... 90125 IS NOT YES!
  • Joe from Albion, Nyi believe that this is when yes sold themselves out
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScThis song is good, but it's not like their other stuff. Personally, I'm not bothered by it at all.
  • Max from Sydney, AustraliaYes i agree this song is kinda dull. But, Yes had a crack at Pop.. And they got it to #1 on the charts. But its not as good as their Yes album close to the edge or Going for the one type music
  • Chris from New York, NyThe horn bursts heard directly after the drum solo in this song were sampled by LL Cool J on "That's a Lie" from his debut LP "Radio", which features Russell Simmons telling preposterous lies (which actually have all come to pass in some form or another).
  • Leon from Waterbury, CtThe only Yes song I like. Otherwise, I don't see what's so good about them.
  • Nick from Nyc, Nythis is also 1 of my all-time favorite albums, from front to back totally enjoyable. 'hearts' couldnt be a better ending.
  • Erik from Somers, NyYeah, this is a good song, but not really a good Yes song. It's good stuff but nothing compared to the Yes Album/Close to the Edge Years.
  • Roger from America, PaThis song is really dull in comparison to all their others
  • Willy Espinoza from Lima, PeruYes is one of the best bands ever, in all kind of music. Yes is the meaning of Progressive rock and this song is one of the worst songs ever. I´m a huge fan of Yes and, honestly, I hate this one, it has nothing to do with prog rock, it´s just more of the 80's comercial pop. But what can I say, this song is not Yes! That happens because Anderson, Squire, Howe, White and Wackeman wasn´t together at the studio. I had the opportunity to go to a Yes concert in Lima in 1999. It was one of my best moments in life. I enjoyed most of the songs, like "And you and I", "Perpetual Change", "Close to the Edge", "Heart of the Sunrise" and more, but when they played this one I went out of the show and came back as it had finished.
  • Elson from Los Angeles, CaHahah a "gank" is really called an "Orchestral Hit." It's basically a sample of an entire orchestra playing one loud note in unison, usually at the end of a piece.
  • Dee from Indianapolis, InOne of the best albums of all times if you ask me. 90125 is great from opening to the last song. "Owner of a Lonely Heart" was the biggie, but every song could have gotten air play in my opinion, but to many people can't handle smart lyrics.
  • Mickey from Langley, VaRob from Santa Monica, you're absolutely right - the "gank" (although I've never heard it called that before) was very much in fashion then, but Yes did not jump on the band wagon, they built it. Trevor Horn's amazing production on this record proved to be very trend-setting. Everyone else's ganks appeared after they had heard his.
  • Rob from Santa Monica, CaThis song come out during the one year period when every song had to have a "gank" in it. A gank being the noise that sounds like hitting 10 keys on a synthesizer at once. There at least a dozen ganks here, making it one of the gankiest. "The Unforgettable Fire" by U2 had a mere 4 ganks. The all time gank kings are Duran Duran, whose "View to a Kill" consists almost entirely of ganks.
  • Savannah from Salem, InTrue that...the video freaked me out.
  • Kent Lyle from Palo Alto, CaYes's dance beat megahit. Probably owes a lot of its atmosphere to Trevor Horn's production. It is unclear if Tony Kaye played any keyboards on this song.
  • John from Surrey, EnglandThis song was produced by Trevor Horn, previously half of "Buggles" - a one and a half hit wonder band with "Video killed the Radio Star". He had been Yes's lead single for a short while when Jon Anderson temporarily left - but his voice really didn't suit their style. Luckily Jon soon rejoined and Trevor had a successful career as a producer - with ABC, Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Simple Minds, but also working for a while with Yes as Producer on 90125.
  • Jonathan from Natchitoches, LaAppears in Season 1 Episode 2 of Cold Case on CBS. The title of the episode is "Gleen".
  • Steph from Ottawa, CanadaOne of the most imaginative videos to come out of the eighties - very disturbing and Orwellian, and surprisingly graphic.
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