My dad, your granddad, tirelessly listened to just three artists as we were growing up: Buddy Holly, Leonard Cohen, and Roy Orbison. If you’re going to restrict yourself to just these balladers, not the worst selection. While I greatly enjoy Holly and Cohen, Roy Orbison was able to make a mark on me that has stuck throughout my lifetime. There are many artists with incredible voices but no one can match Roy Orbison. This is an exceptional compilation album from your grandparent’s collection.
I’m a sucker for just about any song with a rising cadence and a crescendo ending. I think that penchant is indoctrinated in us at a young age from Disney films. Orbison has mastered this technique. Orbison, the other man in black, was a rebel for non classical reasons. When many of his counterparts were singing songs of bravado, Orbison looked to the other side of the coin singing dark, moody, personal emotional ballads. Simply…I’m a man. I have a heart. I have feelings. (I think I may have robbed that or some form of that from a Stone Temple Pilots song, perhaps “Army Ants?”) And so does every other man so quit hiding it. It’s always been interesting to me that such an emotionally reserved if not callous man that is my dad loved Roy’s music as much as he did. Alas…music’s ability to express feelings we are unable to articulate ourselves. I digress. Some surmise that Roy dressed in black as a sort of camouflage for crippling stage fright and later stayed in black as tragedy struck his family, with his two sons being killed in a fire at the family home. Further misfortune would come for Roy directly in the form of a heart attack that killed him at the young age of 52.
This compilation came out in 1966 when Orbison’s career appeared to be all but over. However, a resurgence would come in the 80’s via solo work and his creation of the fantastic Traveling Wilburys (Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, George Harrison, and Tom Petty). Being a hits compilation, I recommend every track. However, if there is one song that stands out above them all for me, it’s “Running Scared.” This is a top 10 favorite of all time. The arrangement, the cadence, the crescendo, the story…it’s all there and it’s magical. A track by track detailing could run on for days. Just drop the needle. Every record hobbyist or appreciator of music needs a Roy Orbison album in their collection.
One day I will be an even older man. Time is outpacing your dear dad. I can clearly see my dad on one of our road trips, probably to the Camp or a soccer tournament, harmonizing “Dream baby got me dreamin sweet dreams” with Roy. I wonder what those songs will be for you, and whatever they are, I hope they make you smile.
Favorite Tracks: “Running Scared” then all the rest. Every track.
Pressing: Monument – SLP18045. Original Pressing. 1966.