Discussion:
The Number Ones: Roy Orbison's "Running Scared"
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Bob Roman
2018-12-20 15:30:59 UTC
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Roy Orbison – "Running Scared"

HIT #1: June 5, 1961

STAYED AT #1: 1 week

Here's Bob Dylan, writing in his Chronicles, Volume One memoir, about hearing his future Traveling Wilburys bandmate Roy Orbison singing "Running Scared" on the radio, back when the song was new:

"He was now singing his compositions in three or four octaves that made you want to drive your car over a cliff. He sang like a professional criminal. Typically, he'd start out in some low, barely audible range, stay there a while and then astonishingly slip into histrionics. His voice could jar a corpse, always leave you muttering to yourself something like, 'Man, I don’t believe it.' His songs had songs within songs."

Roy Orbison was not a professional criminal. He was a polite Texan dweeb who, during the early rock 'n' roll era, had somehow found his way into the same Sun Records constellation that had produced Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash. His early music was a bit lost in the shuffle, and you can see why. While all his peers were throwing chaotic virility all over the place, Orbison was giving us tremulous hurt, his remarkably expressive croon evoking deep-cut feelings of insecurity and loneliness. But Orbison hung on, finding greater success later by developing and honing that exquisite vulnerability in his voice. It's that quality that ultimately gives us a masterpiece like "Running Scared."


Epic is a funny word. It implies length and sprawl as well as size. But "Running Scared" is barely two minutes long, and it’s an absolute epic. The choppy guitar sounds like Mexican folk music. The swirling strings sound like easy-listening jazz. And Orbison himself uncorks the full power of his voice, the "jar a corpse" immediacy of which Dylan wrote. The Orbison of "Running Scared" sounds like George Jones singing opera. It’s devastating.

"Running Scared" is a song about uncertainty, about being with someone but always worrying that the person you’re with will leave your for an ex at the slightest provocation: "Just running scared, afraid to lose / If he came back, which one would you choose?" There's no chorus, and Orbison outlines the whole scenario in a grand total of 87 words. He and his co-writer Joe Melson claim that they wrote the song in five minutes. But the lyrics tell you all you need to know. It’s a knife-edge tense song, and when it builds up to the moment where Orbison’s girl stays with him, the relief is sudden and overwhelming and hard-earned. It's a moment that you feel in your entire physical being.

There’s a story about Orbison recording "Running Scared." He wasn’t happy with his first couple of takes. He just wasn’t singing that final verse loud enough. The orchestra was drowning him out. He'd been singing that final note in falsetto, and he finally decided to just sing it full-on, belting it as hard as he could. Orbison hit that motherfucker so hard that, the story goes, the musicians in the orchestra stopped playing. They were stunned. You would be, too.

GRADE: 10/10
md
2018-12-20 16:19:24 UTC
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We’re he one of my students I would have told him he didn’t need Bob Dylan to certify his tastes.
SavoyBG
2018-12-20 17:18:35 UTC
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Post by md
We’re he one of my students I would have told him he didn’t need Bob Dylan to certify his tastes.
Yes, these pricks like to validate older music by showing how one of their white rock icons endorses it.
Roger Ford
2018-12-20 20:11:24 UTC
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We=E2=80=99re he one of my students I would have told him he didn=E2=80=
=99t need Bob Dylan to certify his tastes.
Yes, these pricks like to validate older music by showing how one of their =
white rock icons endorses it.
Yes and they also tend to embrace people like Dave Marsh to the level
of expert on 50's and 60's rock & roll and R&B just because he has a
famous (mistake ridden) book to his name not realizing that there are
people in the ordinary fan base of this music who would leave someone
like Marsh for dead with the high level of their expertise

ROGER FORD
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Dean F.
2018-12-21 03:34:49 UTC
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Post by Roger Ford
Yes and they also tend to embrace people like Dave Marsh to the level
of expert on 50's and 60's rock & roll and R&B just because he has a
famous (mistake ridden) book to his name not realizing that there are
people in the ordinary fan base of this music who would leave someone
like Marsh for dead with the high level of their expertise
Factual Errors in Dave Marsh's THE HEART OF ROCK AND SOUL:
https://rateyourmusic.com/list/goldwax317/factual_errors_in_dave_marshs_the_heart_of_rock_and_soul/
md
2018-12-21 05:25:26 UTC
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Browsing the list shows that most of Marsh’s errors are fairly trivial and have little to do with what’s good about the book, and nothing to do with its most important argument, that singles, not albums, are the heart of r’n’r.
Dean F.
2018-12-21 06:29:56 UTC
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Post by md
Browsing the list shows that most of Marsh’s errors are fairly trivial and
have little to do with what’s good about the book, and nothing to do with
its most important argument, that singles, not albums, are the heart of
r’n’r.
I counted 223 factual errors in 1001 entries. In academia, that would get him, what, a C+?
RWC
2018-12-21 08:30:18 UTC
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Post by Dean F.
Browsing the list shows that most of Marsh’s errors are fairly trivial and
have little to do with what’s good about the book, and nothing to do with
its most important argument, that singles, not albums, are the heart of
r’n’r.
I counted 223 factual errors in 1001 entries. In academia, that would get him, what, a C+?
Editions I'm aware of are 1989 and 1998.

If this book is still a popular reference for the period it covers, I would have
thought there would be a more recent edition with all these factual errors
corrected - with you, Bruce and Roger on the consulting team perhaps.
Dean F.
2018-12-21 11:41:56 UTC
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If this book is still a popular reference for the period it covers, I would > have thought there would be a more recent edition with all these factual
errors corrected - with you, Bruce and Roger on the consulting team perhaps.
The 1998 reprint was an exact copy of the 1989 original. They didn't even bother to correct the typos and misspellings.

But for its many shortcomings, the book served a purpose in my musical education. Marsh introduced me to a lot great songs, artists and even genres I had never listened to before.
md
2018-12-21 17:11:11 UTC
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Same here. I may have disagreed with some of his rankings, but he mostly chose the right records. As for the errors, that the later edition didn’t fix them is bad indeed, but his editor deserves a big portion of the blame. All manuscripts have errors, and it’s an editor’s job to fix them. The best publishers employ fact-checkers to comb out errors. I agree that someone like Roger or Bruce employed as fact-checker would have made it a better book, but I don’t agree that the book is useless because of the errors.
SavoyBG
2018-12-21 17:17:47 UTC
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Post by md
he mostly chose the right records.
If your definition of "mostly" is more than 50%, then he may have done that, barely.
Dean F.
2018-12-22 07:54:38 UTC
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On Friday, December 21, 2018 at 12:11:12 PM UTC-5, md wrote:

<< Same here. I may have disagreed with some of his rankings, but he mostly chose the right records. As for the errors, that the later edition didn’t fix them is bad indeed, but his editor deserves a big portion of the blame. All manuscripts have errors, and it’s an editor’s job to fix them. The best publishers employ fact-checkers to comb out errors. I agree that someone like Roger or Bruce employed as fact-checker would have made it a better book, but I don’t agree that the book is useless because of the errors. >>

Sounds like we're basically on the same page, though some of Marsh's song picks had me scratching my head. "We Are the World," fer chrissake???
RWC
2018-12-21 08:20:33 UTC
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Browsing the list shows that most of Marsh’s errors are fairly trivial and have little to do with what’s good about the book, and nothing to do with its most important argument, that singles, not albums, are the heart of r’n’r.
an index by rank of the 1001 songs (Marvin Gaye 'Grapevine'...Joyce Harris 'No
Way Out'). Each item's artist name, year and label links to a page dedicated to
entries for that name, year or label, in rank order:

https://www.lexjansen.com/cgi-bin/marsh_query.php

In the 1998 edition, Dave Marsh lists 101 more recent records "that would have a
strong chance of joining or supplanting the current entries". Go to the bottom
of: https://www.lexjansen.com/cgi-bin/marsh_postscript98.php

The Best 500 Doo-Wop Songs:
From "Doo-Wop, The forgotten Third of Rock and Roll"
written in 1992 by the doctors of doo-wop,
Dr. Anthony J. Gribin & Dr. Mathhew M. Schiff:
[this page works in Google Chrome, might not work in Internet Explorer 11]
https://www.lexjansen.com/cgi-bin/doowop_query.php

"The following list (of 1085 Vocal Group records) is the result of several years
of processing innumerable polls and surveys." - as of 2000
https://www.lexjansen.com/cgi-bin/doowop2000_query.php

Country Music's 500 Greatest Singles (1923 - 2000);
can be sorted by Rank, Year, Title, Label
https://www.lexjansen.com/cgi-bin/country500_query.php
SavoyBG
2018-12-21 13:43:45 UTC
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Post by md
Browsing the list shows that most of Marsh’s errors are fairly trivial and have little to do with what’s good about the book, and nothing to do with its most important argument, that singles, not albums, are the heart of r’n’r.
So what. He can make the same point and not have hundreds of errors. All he needed to do was pay someone like me to fact check and proofread the thing.
Roger Ford
2018-12-20 18:56:46 UTC
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On Thu, 20 Dec 2018 07:30:59 -0800 (PST), Bob Roman
Roy Orbison =E2=80=93 "Running Scared"
HIT #1: June 5, 1961
STAYED AT #1: 1 week
IMO Roy Orbison's best ever dramatic ballad (co-written with Joe
Melson) and his first record to top the Billboard chart ("Only The
Lonely" had previously hit #2 but had reached the very top here in the
UK). In Britain "Running Scared" peaked at #9 on the NME chart

There was a terrific flipside too in the shape of "Love Hurts"---a
strong Boudleaux Bryant number that had first been recorded by The
Everly Brothers the previous year (it's on their "A Date With The
Everly Brothers" 1960 album)

Here's how "Running Scared" did in the 1961 Singles Battle

R1
21 Roy Orbison - Running Scared- Monument 438
6 The Church Street Five - A Night With Daddy G - Legrand 1004
R2
6 Rockin' Robin Roberts - Louie,Louie - Etiquette 1
24 Roy Orbison - Running Scared- Monument 438
R3
21 Roy Orbison - Running Scared- Monument 438
8 Irma Thomas - Cry On - Minit 625
R4
26 Roy Orbison - Running Scared- Monument 438
5 James Brown - Baby You're Right - King 5524
R5
13 The Crystals - There's No Other (Like My Baby) -Philles 100
18 Roy Orbison - Running Scared- Monument 438
R6
20 The Jive Five - My True Story - Beltone 1006
13 Roy Orbison - Running Scared- Monument 438
ROGER FORD
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Dean F.
2018-12-21 03:32:32 UTC
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Just how much of Orbison's Sun material has Breihan heard? I don't recall hearing any "tremulous hurt" in "Ooby Dooby," "Rock House," "Go Go Go," or "Domino."
Ken Whiton
2018-12-21 10:13:14 UTC
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*-* On Thu, 20 Dec 2018, a 19:32:32 -0800 (PST),
*-* In Article <dbc30217-ab6a-4281-b219-***@googlegroups.com>,
*-* Dean F. wrote
*-* About Re: The Number Ones: Roy Orbison's "Running Scared"
Post by Dean F.
Just how much of Orbison's Sun material has Breihan heard? I don't
recall hearing any "tremulous hurt" in "Ooby Dooby," "Rock House,"
"Go Go Go," or "Domino."
I thought the same thing when I was reading Bob's post.

Ken Whiton
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