Don’t Make Me Blue

The last post’s subject title was, for those of you not paying attention, a reference to an old, old song by one of rock’n’roll’s finest voices. Scratch that. The finest voice. You can line up your Robert Plants, your Jeff or Tim Buckleys, your Feists, your Mark Lanegans all you like, none of them can come close to the sheer futile majesty of Roy Orbison. He had, as someone once memorably put it, the voice of an angel falling backward out of a window. And the songs, once he’d got through attempts at shoehorning him into the doo-wop style of the late 50’s, fitted him like a minx glove lined with ocelot fur. They were odd songs, too, suitably delicate, yearning and with more than a hint of strangeness. I could go on for hours about this, but just pick out some lines from his songs:

“Oh to see my baby again, and to be with some of my friends”

Some? Some? Not all?

Or here’s a great one from his most famous song, “Oh, Pretty Woman”:

“That you look lovely as can be\Are you lonely just like me?”

Who else in the world would sing a song about seeing a beautiful woman in the street, then cold-heartedly pointing out that she’s human like the rest of us, and quite probably quite sad?

And finally, here’s what got me into this reverie to begin with, “Lana”. First off, there’s the sheer unadulterated shock of hearing that first, pure falsetto; if you’ve not heard a Roy Orbison song before, this is an ideal place to start. Secondly, the song itself is strangely backward looking, with a presumably tongue-in-cheek doo-wop section, culminating in a marvellous spelt out bit1. Thirdly, just as the song makes it into its second chorus, it fades out quickly, at a time when most artists would be doing the whole triumphant finish. Roy decides that it’s much more fun to just leave you wanting more. Excellent.

So, “Lana”. Better than “Video Games”. Sure, it won’t get you any credit at a hipster-slim-trousers-rolled-up-above-the-ankle-Meet-The-F***g-Kooples flashmob2 jerkoff session, but you’ll take that chorus to your grave.

1 I have no idea what this is called. Just listen and you’ll know what I mean.
2 Do people still do flashmobs? I hope not.

MP3: Lana by Roy Orbison

Buy “The Monument Singles Collection” by Roy Orbison, Or Just Give Up On Music Altogether As You Are No Longer Worthy Of It

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1 Comment

  1. Wow, just the introduction I needed. Thank you. I really love this performance of ‘Blue Bayou’ too – the version that I’ve since heard on one of his greatest hits compilations doesn’t have any of that twinkly piano in the chorus. I have a lot of respect for artists who continue to mould their songs over time. It’s funny how live recordings are often so much better than the studio stuff.

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