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"Lonely Boy" is an international hit song from 1977, written and recorded by Andrew Gold in 1976 for his album What's Wrong with This Picture? It spent five months on the American charts, peaking at number seven in both Canada and the United States, and number 11 in the United Kingdom. While "Lonely Boy" would be Gold's biggest U.S. hit, his "Never Let Her Slip Away" achieved greater success in the U.K.
The song follows the life of a child who feels neglected by his parents after the birth of a younger sister. Many assume this song to be autobiographical, yet Gold denied the implication, despite great similarities between the lyrics and his life. Regarding the verses' first lines: "He was born on a summer day in 1951" matches Andrew's August 2, 1951 birthday, "In the summer of '53 his mother/Brought him a sister" matches his sister Martha's July 22, 1953 birthday, and "He left home on a winter day, 1969" may well match the formation of Bryndle, of which Andrew was a member, in 1969.
The second verse of the song features backing vocals provided by Linda Ronstadt. Gold had previously worked with Ronstadt as a producer and backing musician.
The song was also released as an edited single, eliminating the vocal bridge and shortening the instrumental finale.
Uses in media and cover versions
The song was featured in a number of films including Boogie Nights (1997), The Waterboy (1998), and The Nice Guys (2016). It was the final video to be played on the MTV cable channel's first day of broadcast in the United States, on August 1, 1981.
In 1982 Italian singer Ron covered the song adding Italian language lyrics, releasing it as Cosa farò in his album Guarda chi si vede.
In February 2000, the Foo Fighters recorded a cover of the song to be used as a B-side for an upcoming single off their 1999 album There Is Nothing Left to Lose; however, it wasn't used as a B-side as planned.