Roy Orbison – Oh, Pretty Woman

First Hit #1: September 26, 1964

Now, a song corrupted by Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. That’s what I want to say, but to be honest, the song exists in a universe apart from the movie and survives without that association. The song itself makes Roy Orbison into the world’s classiest creepy construction worker. What on earth am I talking about? Well, it’s basically a catcall. A really good catcall, with a very distinctive intro, but the entire song could be accurately interpreted as Orbison shouting at an attractive young woman who is walking by.

In any other hands this would sound unrepentantly creepy. I mean, for heaven’s sake, he attempts a sexy growl part way through, and 99% of men just sound like perverts when they attempt that kind of vocalization. Yet, Orbison somehow, against all odds, makes it actually kind of classy. It doesn’t make any sense. It shouldn’t be as good as it is, it should be a moment of triumph when the woman initially rejects him and the song slows up a bit. But dammit, Orbison is such a class act that no matter what happens, he’s still coming across as an interesting and classy guy. I am convinced nobody else in the world could do this song and not come across as a weirdo. It just can’t be done.

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