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Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Oh, Pretty Woman

Today in Music History: August 29, 1964

It is not unusual for a novel to become a movie. Many classics have resounded their presence decade after decade upon the silver screen. Among the greats are Gone With the Wind, The Great Gatsby, The Last Picture Show, To Kill a Mockingbird, just to name a few. There are also movie series, such as Harry Potter and Twilight. Less known are the songs that have been made into movies. A few that immediately come to mind are Stand By Me, La Bamba, Walk the Line, Cold Miner's Daughter and The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia. The song in the spotlight today is still going strong 50 years after its release with the movie being an all-time favorite.

Roy Orbison, also known by the nickname The Big O. Roy Orbison was an American singer-songwriter, best known for his trademark sunglasses, distinctive, powerful voice, complex compositions, and dark emotional ballads with a typical theme of heartache. Music scholars have suggested that Orbison had a three- or four-octave range and his powerful, impassioned voice earned him the sobriquet "the Caruso of Rock." In fact it is claimed that The Big O and Enrico Caruso were the only 20th century tenors capable of hitting E over high C.


 1964 Roy Orbison's 'Oh, Pretty Woman' was released in the US. It went on to reach No.1 four weeks later. In the UK, Orbison was the only American artist to have a #1 UK hit, and he did it twice - with "(Oh) Pretty Woman" and "It's Over."

Orbison co-wrote 'Oh, Pretty Woman' with Bill Dees in 1964 in tribute to Orbison’s first wife, Claudette, after the two had separated, divorced and then reunited. Speaking about the song’s genesis on NPR in 2008, Dees said: “[Claudette] came bopping down the stairs and said, ‘Give me some money’. ‘What do you need money for?’ [Roy] said. She said ‘Well, I’ve got to go to the store’, and as she walked away they were whispering and kissing bye bye, away from me. I stood up at the table, and he came back to the table, and I said ‘Does this sound funny? [singing] Pretty woman, don’t need no money’. He laughed, and he said ‘There’s nothing funny about pretty woman’. He right away started, [singing] ‘Pretty woman, walking down the street’. By the time she got back, we had it written.” Read MORE...
    

Orbison received a posthumous Grammy in 1991 for the live version of 'Oh, Pretty Woman' from his 1987 Black & White Night concert, which was aired as an HBO television special in January 1988. Featuring an star-powered backing band including Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, kd lang, T Bone Burnett and Bruce Springsteen, it’s a mark of Orbison’s presence and status on stage that the focus always remains on him.
Fifty years on from release, Orbison’s best-known song and defining classic still sounds fresh. Bill Dees recounts how the distinctive growling cry of "Mercy" came about: "I can't do that growl like Roy, but the "Mercy" is mine. I used to say that all the time when I saw a pretty woman or had some good food. Still do." Reflection on Roy Orbison...Mercy, indeed. 




And the music goes on beating to the rhythm of the changing times...