♫ Pretty Woman ♫

Roy Orbison was writing with his songwriting partner Bill Dees at his house when he told Dees to get started writing by playing anything that came to mind. Orbison’s wife Claudette came in and said she was going to go into town to buy something. Orbison asked if she needed any money, and Dees cracked, “Pretty woman never needs any money.” Inspired, Orbison started singing, “Pretty woman walking down the street.”

And thus was born this song, according to Dees …

“He sang it while I was banging my hand down on the table and by the time she returned we had the song. I love the song. From the moment that the rhythm started, I could hear the heels clicking on the pavement, click, click, the pretty woman walking down the street, in a yellow skirt and red shoes. We wrote Oh Pretty Woman on a Friday, the next Friday we recorded it, and the next Friday it was out. It was the fastest thing I ever saw. Actually, the yeah, yeah, yeah in Oh Pretty Woman probably came from The Beatles.”

roy-orbison-claudetteA bit of a sad backstory … Orbison and his wife Claudette had recently reconciled after some tough times, but as this song was climbing the charts, Roy found out she had been cheating on him and filed for divorce. In 1966, they remarried, but two months later Claudette was killed when the motorcycle she was riding was hit by a truck. Orbison faced tragedy again when his two oldest sons died in a fire at his home in 1968. He was on tour at the time.

This was Orbison’s last big hit. His career faded fast, but was revived in the ’80s when prominent musicians like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and George Harrison cited him as an influence and invited him to join various projects. He was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and joined The Traveling Wilburys with Dylan, Tom Petty, Harrison and Jeff Lynne. As he was enjoying this career revival, he died of a heart attack on December 6, 1988 at age 52.

Pretty Woman
Roy Orbison Jr.

Pretty woman, walking down the street
Pretty woman, the kind I like to meet
Pretty woman, I don’t believe you, you’re not the truth
No one could look as good as you, mercy

Pretty woman, won’t you pardon me?
Pretty woman, I couldn’t help but see
Pretty woman, you look lovely as can be
Are you lonely just like me?

Pretty woman, stop awhile
Pretty woman, talk awhile
Pretty woman, give your smile to me

Pretty woman, yeah, yeah, yeah
Pretty woman, look my way
Pretty woman, say you’ll stay with me

‘Cause I need you, I’ll treat you right
Come to me, baby, be mine tonight

Pretty woman, don’t walk on by
Pretty woman, don’t make me cry
Pretty woman, don’t walk away, hey, okay
If that’s the way it must be, okay

I guess I’ll go on home, it’s late
There’ll be tomorrow night, but wait
What do I see?
Is she walking back to me
Yeah, she’s walking back to me
Oh, oh, pretty woman

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Roy Orbison / Bill Dees
Pretty Woman lyrics © Sony/atv Acuff Rose Music, Barbara Orbison Music Company, Roy Orbison Music Company, Barbara Orbison Music Co., Roy Orbison Music Co., Kobalt Music Publishing Limited, Sony Atv Music Publishing France, Universal Muzik Taksim Ed. A. S., Sony Atv Acuff Rose Music, Evergreen Copyrights Obo Barbara Orbison Music, Evergreen Copyrights Obo Orbi-lee Music, Evergreen Copyright Obo R-key Darkus

24 thoughts on “♫ Pretty Woman ♫

        • That’s funny, because when I uploaded that picture, I too found myself staring at it for a long time, trying to assess mood …

          A little personal story … my youngest son, who died last year, was born with severe brain damage. In his 42 years, he never learned to walk, feed himself, use the potty, or any of the things humans do to take care of themselves. Anyway, when he was first tested and it became obvious that he would never be able to take care of himself, I felt a bit sorry for myself. Until, one time I took him to a hospital for special children for some tests in Charlottesville, Virginia. The first thing I saw was a boy around age 3 with no legs, using his arms to propel himself on a skateboard-like device, During the couple of days we spent there, I saw so many who were so much worse off than my own son, that I learned to count my blessings and be thankful for what I do have. There is always somebody a little worse off than we are.

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  1. Jill, thanks for the backstory of the song. From instigation to release in two weeks – that is amazing. I am so glad his memory and influence was revitalized in the 1980s. The black and white tribute show with Springsteen, Costello playing guitar and kd lang and Emmy Lou Harris doing back-up singing to Orbison is fabulous. I had no idea of the tragic losses of his wife and their sons in separate accidents. Keith

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  2. One of the best all-time, but the time he lived in caused him to always be in the shadows of others. A great songwriter and an even better singer, but his life was one tragedy after another, right up to his untimely death just as he was earning the new stardom in the 80s. RIP, Roy, you are one of the best.

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