The week of Roy Orbison continues! Today, I wanted to focus on the themes of his songs since they were atypical to the time.
Critic Dave Marsh categorizes Orbison’s ballads into themes reflecting pain and loss, and dreaming. The loneliness in Orbison’s songs that he became most famous for, he both explained and downplayed: “I don’t think I’ve been any more lonely than anyone else… Although if you grow up in West Texas, there are a lot of ways to be lonely“. A third category is his uptempo rockabilly songs that are more thematically simple, addressing his feelings and intentions in a masculine braggadocio.
His music offered an alternative to the postured masculinity that was pervasive in music and culture. Orbison acknowledged this in looking back on the era in which he became popular: “When [“Crying”] came out I don’t think anyone had accepted the fact that a man should cry when he wants to cry”.
Go, Go, Go (Move on Down the Line)
Oh, Pretty Woman