During the late 1980s, Roy Orbison saw his singing career drastically surge back from his success in the early 1960s. Despite fading for several years, he saw plenty of excellent opportunities. In 1980, his duet with Emmylou Harris, "That Loving You Feeling Again," won a Grammy award. By 1987, he was working on several musical projects that included new singles that would contribute to later albums, a special televised concert known as Roy Orbison's Black & White Night, and as a member of the supergroup The Traveling Wilburys. What started as arrangement for George Harrison's album Cloud Nine became the building blocks to The Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1. This group featured Orbison, Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynne. Lynne would be involved in the production of Mystery Girl (an album that even Bono contributed a song to), released in 1989, and King of Hearts, released in 1992. Orbison was taking part in a tour when he realized he was suffering from chest pains. When returning home on December 6, 1988, he took a heart attack that evening and died before he could successfully receive the right medical treatment. He was just 52 years old and participating in one of music's greatest comebacks.
Roy Orbison inspired many, such as Bruce Springsteen, who even mentioned him in his song "Thunder Road." His songs were covered by Linda Ronstadt, Sonny James, Don McLean, Gene Pitney, and the list keeps going on.
I'm going to recreate the list of my ten favorite Roy Orbison songs that I created back in 2011 to celebrate his 75th birthday. The only difference will be in the fact that I will also include some videos. The summaries will be a bit shorter, but I have the videos to make up for it that I hope you enjoy. The videos are from YouTube and the uploader owns these videos. Ultimately, those who produced the albums and created the lyrics own the rights to the music (much of which is delegated by his living sons).
#10- California Blue
During his 1980s comeback, Orbison had plenty of excellent hits that have continued to stand the test of time. Some of my favorites include "A Love So Beautiful" and "You Got It," but there's something so mesmerizing about "California Blue" and how Orbison captures such beauty and longing through his lyrics. He hits some excellent notes as well.
#9- Oh, Pretty Woman
If there's any song that is forever attached to Roy Orbison's legacy, it's this one. Released in 1964, this remained on the charts for five weeks during an era dominated by the British Invasion. It would eventually inspire the 1990 film, Pretty Woman, starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts. I enjoy the song as well, as it takes on a more upbeat tone, but at the same time capture the essence of Roy Orbison.
#8- Only The Lonely
Orbison's first hit was "Ooby Dooby" from 1956, but it was "Only The Lonely" in 1960 that really brought him a decent flow of attention. This rightfully represents the gist of where Orbison goes with his music, appealing to those that are having the hardest times. He does quite a job hitting those notes as well!
#7- It's Over
Written in 1964 with new co-writer Bill Dees, "It's Over" provides an apocalyptic mindset to losing your love. It's one of his most passionate songs, capturing a feeling that many of us dealing with a breakup go through.
#6- Blue Bayou
Before Linda Ronstadt performed this song in the 1970s, Orbison performed it in 1963 and did quite a job! I always loved the way it was so soothing and painted an image in my mind of such a beautiful place.
First performed in 1961, Orbison wrote this song when he saw the reaction he had with an old flame and it left him saddened. We feel just that emotion of raw sadness. During his 1980s comeback, he sung this as a duet with k.d. lang, which proved to be one of the most dynamic duets of all time. Rightfully one of the saddest songs and it absolutely defines how Roy Orbison goes for the gut with his music.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmisOxCHEiw (with k.d. lang)
#4- In Dreams
This has to be one of his most brilliantly written songs, released in 1963. It tells of a "candy-colored clown they call the Sandman" coming into Orbison's room that puts him to sleep, where he goes through a mesmerizing dream that he awakes from. I was told through the replies, who learned from a reliable source, that this was Orbison's favorite song. I also have a review specifically for this song I wrote over the summer.
#3- Running Scared
There's just something so incredible about this song. It provides a dramatic buildup on the fear that the person (in this case, the woman) you love having her attraction to her previous partner. It builds up so beautifully before it lets loose for an unforgettable finish.
#2- Crawling Back
This is not a song that everybody recalls, but it's just so emotionally brilliant. It captures the emotion of how much you adore somebody, no matter how much pain they inflict onto you. It also captures the loss of a partner and while there was so much pain in the relationship, you will do anything and everything to be with them. The tone starts off soft, but it grabs you and doesn't let go.
#1- The Crowd
This song from 1962 is not his most memorable, but it's my favorite. The song has to do with coping with the loss of a relationship that held so many memories and Orbison sings about simply going about with the crowd and living life as it should be lived, but things could definitely be better since his love has left him. This song starts out soft before going up a few notches before letting loose and ending of a powerful note. There are very few songs that are arranged so brilliantly as this one is.
Of course, there are plenty of songs that were incredible that I wasn't able to include. Arranging the list to ten is the most challenging part, but it's doable and has been done.
It's incredible that it's been 25 years since Roy Orbison has left us physically, but his music continues to live on and inspire several individuals. I'm going to leave you with my original post I wrote for his 75th birthday on April 23, 2011 and a little Christmas video of his signature Christmas hit, "Pretty Paper."
The original post: