Roy Orbison singing for the lonely, hey that’s me and I want you only.
Thunder Road: Bruce Springsteen.
It was 1975 and on an autumn day on the way home from my college in town I walked into Bruce’s Records (where else?) in Reform Street just to hang out. I timed it perfectly. The opening song from Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run was playing and I stayed rooted to the spot for the next 40 minutes. By the weekend I had the money organised to ask a friend to get me a copy when they went into town. By the following weekend I was playing the sax solo from Jungleland so loud to my pal in a blissed out teenage fashion that we attracted the full ire of my father. His call to turn the thing down almost ruined the moment, but not quite.
Last Thursday morning I woke up and the words from Thunder Road were still swimming in my head. I remember hearing that line about Roy Orbison and almost disbelieving my ears. Roy – why was the hippest cat in the west mentioning that old dude? Roy Orbison was the bad bits on Top Of The Pops, he looked terrible and seemed (to my naive 17 year old ears) to be part of a past that needed no celebration from anyone. And yet, and yet……if he was important enough fro Bruce to immortalise in a song, the best song – maybe Bruce’s best song and therefore possibly the best song of all time – maybe Roy needed a second listen? From that day on Roy Orbison was a sacred figure simply waiting for his rediscovery by a slumbering public. As the 70s morphed into the 80s Roy’s moment came. The highlight for me was my pal Graeme Kelling returning from a summer trip to New York where he was making his new home saying he’d taped something on telly I’d love. It was Black and White Night when the great and the good came together to perform the back catalogue of Roy Orbison with Springsteen a key player in the whole event. It set in stone everything I kidded on I’d always thought. Roy was king.
On this Tuesday’s Another Country there will be Bruce, there will be Roy and there will also be two other artists who’ve made sparkling appearances in Scotland in the last 7 days: Laura Marling and in a performance that none of us had the right to expect on Sunday night, Neil Young.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a fantastic session and conversation by Sam Outlaw however. Sam made one of the best albums of last year
any standard. Angeleno (a Los Angelean it turns out) was produced by Ry Cooder and brings together all the lovely things you might expect if you heard a great country baritone voice, some Tex-Mex influences and someone with a good background knowlege of …well…Roy Orbison.
We’ll have new music from the Isle of Arran in the shape of Lists and some fine vinyl care of Townes Van Zandt. Join me from five past nine This Tuesday on BBC Radio Scotland.