Roy Orbison’s life mirrors only Job’s in terms of tragedy and heartache, cursing a man blessed with one of the most beautiful voices of modern times. The double-whammy of losing his sons in a house fire and watching his wife die in a motorcycle accident would be hard enough to bear for any man, but for a sensitive soul like Orbison, they were simply one of a salvo of hard-luck happenings, including poor business deals and a suddenly fading recording career.During this dark time, he quietly recorded a handful of songs, and plans were made for an album of these recordings, entitled One Of The Lonely Ones. To add to his life’s frustrations, the album was canceled and withdrawn, with the songs going straight into the vaults—until now, that is.
If you’re looking for a great lost masterpiece of sorrow and pain—you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Orbison wasn’t an album man—his power was found in the limited timespan of a 45 side—and One Of The Lonely Ones doesn’t really change that. Furthermore, Orbison’s repertoire had seemingly been dominated by songs of heartbreak and loss, therefore blunting any potency and poignancy of loss that they could have had. That being said, there’s something touching about the beautifully morose yet lushly arranged “Sweet Memories” and “I Will Always,” where Orbison sings about longing and regret for a loved one. “Laurie” and “Child Woman, Woman Child” find him channeling his rocker side, though among the more maudlin sounds found here, they feel like a blast of fresh air. Most interesting is a rare political song, “The Deserter,” an anti-war song from an artist not known for making political statements.
Roy Orbison was an artist incapable of making a bad record; even his lesser songs possessed a power and a range that scores of artists only dream of having. Orbison’s career might have taken a nosedive at the time One Of The Lonely Ones was shelved, and though it would be well over a decade before he received the dues he deserved, it would come, though, in true form, his success would be marred once again by tragedy—this time, his sudden death.
One Of The Lonely Ones is available now via UMe/Roy’s Boys