This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #434: Crying by Roy Orbison.
Roy Orbison produced a string of hits in the early to mid-1960s that included, “Only the Lonely”, “Oh Pretty Woman” and “Running Scared”. His music was constructed on a foundation of rockabilly and soaring ballads. His singing voice remains one of the most soothing and satisfying of all male singers of his generation and beyond. It is not surprising that he is often cited as an influence by talented singers who followed in his wake such as Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt and Tom Petty.
Roy Orbison enjoyed a career that contained three distinct phases. First of all, he was the star on his own during the 1960s and 70s. Then, in 1987, he teamed up with Canada’s own, K.D. Lang, to record a duet version of “Crying” which went on to win the Grammy for Best Country Collaboration of the Year. His career was capped off by his participation in the supergroup known as The Travellin’ Wilburys. In that group, Orbison joined legends such as Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne. Just before he passed away in 1988, his song, “You Got It” was released and became his final Top Ten Hit. He is a member of the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame and was listed in Rolling Stone magazine as being one of the Top 15 singers of all time.
The song, “Crying” contains a fairly standard storyline that was taken out of a real event in Orbison’s life. The song describes the emotions Orbison feels after he has a chance encounter with a woman that he had once dated and then, let get away. Being broken-hearted is not an unusual plot device in the story structure of many ballads. But, what makes “Crying” stand out, aside from his soaring vocals (especially near the end of the song) is Orbison’s willingness to address his emotional state at a time when most men were discouraged from discussing how they truly felt inside. Orbison claims that his attempt to display the depth of his feelings was deliberate and was intended to kickstart a conversation among males about emotional health and wellbeing. The success of his attempt remains a work in progress even now but, Orbison deserves a lot of credit for having made such an effort, way before it was fashionable to do so in the society in which he found himself at the time.
Roy Orbison was a a gentle man, a beautiful singer and a talented songwriter. He is remembered with much affection by those who had the pleasure of working alongside him, as well as, those who simply enjoyed his music as fans. I will post his solo version of “Crying” below, as well as, his duet with K.D. Lang in the comments. Get ready for some extraordinary singing. Enjoy.
The link to the music video for Crying by Roy Orbison can be found here.
The link to the music video for the music video for Crying with Roy Orbison and K.D. Lang can be found here.
Roy Orbison has a website that is dedicated to preserving his memory. A link to that website can be found here.
Thanks, as always, to KEXP for supporting music in ways that allow the very best performers to shine. A link to their wonderful website can be found here.