Owner Of A Lonely Heart By Yes

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Owner of a Lonely Heart” is a song by Yes. It is the first track and single from their eleventh studio album 90125, released in November 1983. Written primarily by guitarist and singer Trevor Rabin, contributions were made to the final version by singer Jon Anderson, bassist Chris Squire, and producer Trevor Horn.

For the song’s opening, Rabin used the same guitar tone that he’d employed on a session he did for Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, which involved panning two guitar tracks left and right and aiming for a sound “as heavy as possible”. The arpeggiated guitar part on the verses was played on a 12-string Rickenbacker. Chris Squire’s bass guitar parts were played on two instruments. The main verse and chorus parts were played on his custom-built Electra MPC Outlaw, making use of two of its plug-in features (the octave box and the phaser); while other parts were played on his new Mouradian CS-74 (a custom-shaped guitar similar to his usual Rickenbacker 4001S. Squire also added a Motown-influenced bridge section to the song, following the second chorus.

After the band had produced a satisfactory arrangement, Horn wished to incorporate a drum programmer, which the band, particularly White, strongly objected to at first. Horn prevailed, resulting in Squire and himself programming a drum machine sequence for the song. Rabin tried numerous times for Horn and engineer Gary Langan to retain the heavy drum sound that he had used on the song’s demo, but they wanted it changed as it did not suit White’s sound or drumming style. Horn wanted to use a drum sound similar to that of Stewart Copeland on Synchronicity (1983) by The Police, and tuned White’s snare drum to the key of a high A. Atlantic president Ahmet Ertegun liked a mix that Horn had made, and decreed that Rabin’s idea for a big drum sound would not be used. Horn also used a five-second sample of the drum breakdown in “Kool is Back” by jazz and soul group Funk, Inc. (itself a cover of “Kool’s Back Again” by Kool & the Gang): Alan White incorporated this into the song’s midsection drum break, which he played on Fairlight.

At Horn’s suggestion, Rabin used the Synclavier synthesiser and sampler to replace his original keyboard parts. On the demo version, the breaks and flourishes had been played on a Minimoog synthesiser: Horn wished to keep them in the final song and had them rerecorded on his Fairlight CMI sampler, as well as reworking some of them using Synclavier and Fairlight patches and noises. For the “whizz, bangs and gags” sound effects, Horn used the Fairlight (programmed by J. J. Jeczalik). According to musician Questlove, “Owner of a Lonely Heart” contained the first use of a sample as a breakbeat, as opposed to a sound effect.

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