SongoftheDay: Chris Roy Orbison In Dreams

SongoftheDay: Chris Roy Orbison In Dreams

r2Orbison often excused his motionless performances by saying that his songs did not allow instrumental sections so he could move or dance on stage, although songs like “Mean Woman Blues” did offer that. He was aware of his unique performance style even in the early 1960s when he commented, “I’m not a super personality—on stage or off. I mean, you could put workers like Chubby Checker or Bobby Rydell in second-rate shows and they’d still shine through, but not me. I’d have to be prepared. People come to hear my music, my songs. That’s what I have to give them.”

Lang compared Orbison to a tree, with passive but solid beauty.This image of Orbison as immovable was so associated with him it was parodied by John Belushi on Saturday Night Live, as Belushi dressed as Orbison falls over while singing “Oh, Pretty Woman”, and continues to play as his bandmates set him upright again. However, Lang quantified this style by saying, “It’s so hard to explain what Roy’s energy was like because he would fill a room with his energy and presence but not say a word. Being that he was so grounded and so strong and so gentle and quiet. He was just there.”r3

Orbison attributed his own passion during his performances to the period when he grew up in Fort Worth while the U.S. was mobilizing for World War II. His parents worked in a defense plant and his father would bring a guitar in the evenings and their friends and relatives who had just joined the military would gather, and drink and sing heartily. Orbison later reflected, “I guess that level of intensity made a big impression on me, because it’s still there. That sense of ‘do it for all it’s worth and do it now and do it good.’ Not to analyze it too much, but I think the verve and gusto that everybody felt and portrayed around me has stayed with me all this time.