Thursday, April 3, 2008

Some thoughts on Roy Orbison

I spent my whole life thinking that Roy Orbison was blind.

This wasn't some belief that only I held. My brother also thought Roy wore the glasses because his eyes were uselessly trapped in his face. I remember when I was very young, Pretty Woman came on the radio and my mother telling me that her mother, long dead, always expressed her sympathy for poor blind Roy, "ya haram! That poor man." Ultimately, it doesn't affect me whether or not Roy was blind or gay or had a PhD, that is it wouldn't have affected me if he were a doctor singing about a pretty woman, but he was a blind man singing about a pretty woman. So, I was affected greatly and this sad juxtaposition almost entirely shaped my view of a little something called irony.

It was finally at 27 that I discovered Roy was actually a sighted person. The truth unravelled during an argument with a friend about this exact topic. I called my aunt, who is a human encyclopedia, to back me up. However, she yelled at me and told me how wrong I was, Roy Orbison was just always stoned, according to her, hence the sunglasses. Yet, even after hearing the “truth,” I remained reluctant to believe this new information. He is blind to me. The end. That’s my truth on Roy Orbison.

You have to understand, my entire sense and understanding of the idea of irony is based on my relationship Roy Orbison as a blind man. What is irony now that he could see the pretty woman? I grew up thinking that Roy was ironically praising the beauty of a woman he could tragically not see. The great pain that comes from this is that he loves her and tells her how pretty she is to make her happy, when he, himself cannot enjoy her beauty! Irony is somewhat always tinged with sadness, longing, with heartbreak. With Roy having vision, the song becomes uninteresting, commonplace. And then what happens to irony?! Do I have to re-think my entire idea of everything I've ever smugly known. Do all my dry jokes now make no sense?

It is for this reason that I will continue to believe that Roy Orbison is without sight. He is still the tragic, frustrated lover in my mind. The true king of irony. A man who knows how to get through his pain with a sad, joking song.


krylonultraflat said...

Have you ever sat down and tried to listen to the Best Of Roy Orbison CD?

I've tried, many times. Every song has a 4-girl chorus and a this string background that turns everything into this schmaltzy 1960's pastiche. End result: the most boring 10 songs ever put on a single album. It's like he wrote songs that he knew would someday be in the background of a TV commercial.

So, yeah: I'm right there with you, just not only about the song Pretty Woman.

Emily Sue said...

I thought he was blind, too!!!