Trisha Shetty (Editor)

One Headlight

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Released  November 1996
Recorded  1994
Format  CD, 7" vinyl
B-side  "6th Avenue Heartache" (Acoustic) "Angel on My Bike" (Live)
Genre  Alternative rock roots rock
Length  5:13 (Album Version) 4:38 (Single Version)

"One Headlight" is a song by American band The Wallflowers. The song was written by lead singer Jakob Dylan, and produced by T-Bone Burnett. It was released in November 1996 as the second single from the band's 1996 album, Bringing Down the Horse. In 2000, the song was listed at #58 on Rolling Stone and MTVs list of "100 Greatest Pop Songs of All Time".



According to some, the lyrics tell a fragmentary story about a former friend and her death, and the singer's emotions in the aftermath. The use of strong words and images and the incomplete story have resulted in many different interpretations of the song, which include suicide, drug abuse, death of a lover, death of one's mother, having breast cancer and/or depression.

However, Jakob Dylan has said that the song is about "the death of ideas." Dylan explained that he and the band had very little support when they were putting together the record, hence the shout-out, "C'mon, try a little". The last two lines of the chorus "we can drive it home/ with one headlight" are a reference to how the band were able to get through with their ideas despite being hindered (i.e. with one headlight) by the lack of support.


The song won Grammy Awards in 1998, two years after its release in the categories Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group. It was named "Best Video" for 1996 in a VH1 poll. The song was performed live on the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards with Bruce Springsteen, where the music video was nominated four times, including for "Viewer's Choice". The song would reach number 58 in MTV and Rolling Stone's 2000 list "The 100 Greatest Pop Songs Since the Beatles" and was The Village Voice Pazz & Jop poll's 36th best song of the year.

Music video

A music video directed by Joe Perota was shot for the song in 1996 and premiered in early 1997.

Track listing

  1. "One Headlight" (Edit) – 4:38
  2. "6th Avenue Heartache" (Acoustic) – 4:57
  3. "Angel on My Bike" (Live) – 4:46

Chart performance

Although the song did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100 due to the chart rules at the time, the song was a significant radio hit in the US. It spent five weeks at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay chart (it was held off the number 1 spot by Jewel's "You Were Meant for Me" and Hanson's "MMMBop") and a total of 70 weeks on this chart. It also was the first song to top these three Billboard airplay charts: Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks, Hot Modern Rock Tracks, and Hot Adult Top 40 Tracks.

Cover versions

  • Country singers Lisa Brokop and Paul Jefferson recorded the song on their 2011 album, The Jeffersons, released in Canada.
  • Relient K covered this song for inclusion on their 2011 cover album, Is for Karaoke.
  • John Craigie covered it on his album Leave the Fire Behind.
  • Paradise Fears covered the song for their Covers EP.
  • References

    One Headlight Wikipedia