My Music Lexicon: O is for Orbison (and Oasis)

Around the time my age reached double figures, singles – 45s (ask your grandad) – cost 6/8d each, which in the new money is 33.33 recurring pence. In other words, you could get three records for a pound.

And we did. Every couple of weeks, my brother and I were allowed to order three records from a catalogue that my Mum ran. On that way we accumulated quite a decent collection of the biggest hits of the early sixties (which would probably be worth a fortune now, but hey ho). Among these discs were several by Roy Orbison, who had a string of chart successes around that time. Heaven knows, the man had a sad life and a too-early death, but he was a real talent.

This extract from the New York Times obituary in December 1988 sums it up pretty well perfectly:

“Roy Orbison sang about loneliness and heartache with an intensity and poignancy perhaps unequalled in rock. The only thing about Orbison that overshadowed his greatness was his niceness.

In a field in which gimmick and swagger often contribute to stardom as much as talent, Orbison was a singer who earned his place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His best-known hits, including “Only the Lonely” and “Running Scared,” are among the most majestic and affecting records ever made.”

Honourable Mention

Having attained a certain age, it was quite possible to view the publicity-driven ‘confrontation’ between Blur and Oasis with amused detachment. However, unlike the earlier ‘battle’ (sometimes quite literally) between Mods and Rockers where, based purely on the music, it was actually quite tough to decide, for me the Britpop choice was completely clear-cut: Oasis every time.

Not that I think the Gallaghers belong in the very highest tier of the rock pantheon, but they did produce some good tunes, with more than a – usually respectful – nod to The Beatles, as they might have been – if they hadn’t moved on. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh because of my age compared to theirs, but hey guys – where were you while we were getting high?

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