Astute readers who can get past the burnished-chrome blouses and pants, the vertical stripes, and the disconcerting mustaches will recognize the above band as Three Dog Night—especially if, being readers, they can indeed read the phrase “THREE DOG NIGHT” when it appears onscreen at about the 0:14 mark—and will perhaps be able to identify the tune as their top-five rendition of the song “One,” originally written and recorded by Harry Nilsson in 1968.
The band—not to mention the general public—was almost certainly unaware that Nilsson conducted extensive research into numerical loneliness, laying down a bedrock layer of scientific certitude upon which he would build his lyrics. He began his research more than a decade before he wrote a single verse, at a time when the members of Three Dog Night probably couldn’t muster up any sort of mustaches at all.
Nilsson’s notes on the subject were believed to have been lost—mysteriously stolen from his workshop long before his death in 1994. But they were discovered by accident in a vast U.S. government warehouse, crumpled into loose balls and used as packing material inside a partially-burned crate containing a large, metal-plated chest of undetermined Middle Eastern origin. Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, Nilsson’s notes on numerolonliness are reproduced here in their entirety:
- One, according to empirical evidence attained through observation and controlled testing, is the loneliest number.
- Two can be as bad as one; it’s the loneliest number since (see above).
- The third-loneliest number: Twelve.
- Three, in terms of love, really is a crowd.
- Four is surprisingly well-adjusted; it’s actually the eighty-second loneliest number.
- Five: alone, but not lonely.
- Seven: Has struggled with feelings of inadequacy ever since Aerosmith released “Big Ten-Inch Record” in 1975.
- Eight. . . . Eight. I forgot what eight was for.
- Nine is looking for Mister Aught, but will settle for Mister Aught Now.
- Ten needs to be okay with itself first before it can be comfortable with anyone else.
- Thirteen only hurts the ones it loves.
- Seventeen: Daddy says it’s too young.
- ∞ believes love is forever.
|7 and 2: unlucky in love, too.|