Roy Orbison. His creaky, lonely, ’Blue Bayou’ was my cellphone ringtone for about six months. The thickly-spectacled rock songbird of the 1960′s is undoubtably worthy of such cellular homage; he was probably the sweetest crooner to ever grace the stage. The discovery of his ‘greatest hits’ had an unusually large impact on my musical tastes, and I still hold an affectionate place in my music library for “that guy who kinda looks like Buddy Holly”.
Orbison, plagued by melancholy throughout his career (he lost his first wife in a motorcycle accident, and two children in a fire), sung his forlorn ballads to thousands of emphatic fans ranging from every end of the musical spectrum. With a reputation for being incredibly polite, soft-spoken, and even somewhat awkward, he was a much needed break from the diva-attitudes of some of his contemporaries. Orbison wrote music for people like the Everly Brothers, recorded with everyone from George Harrison to Bob Dylan, and even had his work appropriated by director David Lynch—who used Orbison’s gloomy vocals in his 1986 film, Blue Velvet.
“Oh, Pretty Woman”, arguably his catchiest pop song, charmed it’s way up the charts, while “Only the Lonely” encapsulates an innocent sadness that Orbison so gracefully commands.
If you consider yourself a music lover and are unacquainted with Roy Orbison’s work, you’d be doing yourself a disservice to continue overlooking it. Though somewhat obscured by the larger stars of the 1960′s, Roy hammered out a devoted following until his death, and for good reason. It’s refreshing to hear about popular musicians with pleasant dispositions, and that just makes Roy Orbison’s music more likable.
Not like it needed any help.