The song where doughy, doleful Roy Orbison finally gets the girl – of course we’re on his side from the start, and Orbison plays on his persona and our sympathies with a wonderful piece of three-minute theatre. From the opening, stuttering, is-it-a-riff-or-isn’t-it, everything on this superbly crafted record is tackling the same questions: will he dare to ask? will she say yes? The odds are frankly against it (Roy’s clumsy, perceptive chat-up line is asking if she’s as lonely as he is). He psychs himself up – “Mercy!” – he sends himself up – “rrrrrowwwwl” – he turns all courtly… and he falls flat. The section after his brave-faced “OK” tears me in two – half of me is swooning over every sob-soaked vocal nuance, half of me just wants to give Roy a hug. And then the ending, perfectly understated, that final drum hit drawing a line and giving us a chance to cheer our hero into the sunset. Listener, she married him.
(And then, for the Pretty Woman of the title was Roy’s wife Claudette, she cheated on him. Sometimes I really hate search engines.)