You should question the quality of any “classic love song” playlist compiler if they don’t include something by the late, great Roy Orbison. The man’s catalog of great love songs and tales of woe and regret rival only The Smiths in terms of tragedy and pathos. I considered many, many songs for this list, but I thought I’d go with the first one of his songs that I heard, loved, and obsessed over.
Though the song was released in 1963, Orbison re-recorded the song for his album In Dreams, a collection of re-recorded greatest hits; the single was his penultimate solo release before his sudden death in 1988. (Almost fittingly, his final release was his remake of “Crying.”)
In 1987, I was fourteen, and I was in love with the movie Blue Velvet, and this song was a centerpiece of the film. Though the original song has a youthful power that’s not found in the remake, what this version has is the power of a lifetime of sadness and pain. (Seriously, look it up: in spite of his success and great talent, the man had an almost Job-like curse on him; that he died just as he was making a comeback, all things considered, sadly isn’t that surprising.)
This is a great and powerful song of longing. Truthfully, if the mood is wrong, I tear up when I hear it…