Today is one of those days where I had to make an edit to my list after the year had started. As I was working through my mental Mount Rushmore of early rock and roll legends, it occurred to me that Roy Orbison had somehow slipped through all of the various criteria I had used to put this list together. As I listed to his album “The Monument Singles Collection”, which contains all of his singles and key recordings from 1961 to 1964, I realized what a complete oversight that would have been to not spend a day with Roy and his angelic voice.
Predictably, there were many instantly recognizable songs in this collection, most of which were originally authored by Orbison. “Oh, Pretty Woman” is really good, “Only The Lonely” is even better, and “Crying” is an absolute masterpiece. As much as I anticipated and enjoyed each of those, there were several other gems to be found here. “Let the Good Times Roll” and “I Can’t Stop Loving You” are great covers, and the 19th century traditional song “Beautiful Dreamer” was outstanding. Another standout was the original performance of “Blue Bayou”, known to many as the soulful smash for Linda Ronstadt. (Wait… is she on my list? It never ends…).
Many of you from my generation may recall the second career surge for Roy Orbison in the late 1980s, with his top 10 hit “You Got It” and his showcase performance in the Traveling Wilburys with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne. Sadly, that second wave of success was realized primarily on the heels of Orbison’s too-young passing from heart failure at the age of 52. Fans of all ages realize there is, and was, only one Roy Orbison. His style, and that voice… oh man, that voice… they both live on forever.