Music Interviews
8:04 am
Sat June 14, 2014

Orbison's Lost Tracks Included In 'Mystery Girl' Re-Issue

Originally published on Tue June 17, 2014 8:20 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Rock 'n Roll has its thrills, but who gave it the best trills?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OH, PRETTY WOMAN")

SIMON: Roy Orbison.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OH, PRETTY WOMAN")

ROY ORBISON: (Singing) Mercy. Pretty woman, won't you pardon me. Pretty woman, I couldn't help but see. Pretty woman, and you look lovely as can be. Are you lonely just like me?

SIMON: Roy Orbison helped forge what rock is today with intricate songs that told stories of heartbreak and longing, with a voice that was positively operatic. That was in the early 1960s, but Roy Orbison struggled after his first wife Claudette died in a motorcycle accident and his two oldest sons perished in a fire. But he climbed back to his feet professionally by the mid 1980s, and recorded several widely admired albums including "Mystery Girl" and it featured one of his classics "You Got It."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOU GOT IT")

R. ORBISON: (Singing) Anything you want, you got it. Anything you need, you got it. Anything you at all, you got it. Baby. Anything you want.

SIMON: Roy Orbison finished recording that album, and then just a few weeks later, he died of a heart attack at the end of 1988. The 25th anniversary reissue of "Mystery Girl" is out now, including lost tracks and a documentary about the album's creation. It was put together by his three sons, Alex, Wesley and Roy Jr. Alex Orbison and Wesley Orbison join us now from Nashville. Thanks so much for being with us.

WESLEY ORBISON: Yeah, thank you.

ALEX ORBISON: Yeah thank you very much for having us.

SIMON: What's it like to look at old footage of your father?

A. ORBISON: You know, it's really wonderful. And I think Roy Jr. had said it best, that it was like looking at a high school yearbook. You know, it's such a memento and a timepiece of a great time in our lives.

SIMON: I have to ask you both, your father endured a lot of tragedy in his life. Was he tragic in person?

W. ORBISON: No, not at all (laughing).

A. ORBISON: That is one of the beauties of this documentary, is we were able to show how lighthearted and how funny as a person Roy actually, really was. And in a way it's a shame because every interview that I have gone through in the archives, with the exception of maybe five, they all start the same. Roy, well, you had these tragedies and this is your life and you must be a sad guy. And every time he says, well, you know, not actually. You know, we all have things we deal with in our life and through work and love and faith you can get through these things.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IN THE REAL WORLD")

SIMON: Let's play "In The Real World."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IN THE REAL WORLD")

R. ORBISON: But in the real world, there are things that we can't change. And endings come to us in ways that we can't rearrange.

SIMON: Wesley Orbison.

W. ORBISON: Yes.

SIMON: Where did that voice come from?

W. ORBISON: (Laughing) His mother would say that he always knew what he wanted to do from the time he was a little bitty boy. And I think he put a lot of heart and soul into his craft, you know. It wasn't by accident that he sang so wonderfully.

SIMON: Let's listen to another track, "The Way Is Love." This is a new song.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE WAY IS LOVE")

R. ORBISON: (Singing) The way is love, is in the end enough. The way of love makes everything alright.

SIMON: Now clearly Roy Orbison on vocals, but where did the instrumentation come from?

W. ORBISON: Well, the boys had called me and said we've got this really wonderful vocal track on dad. It's from a demo tape. It's got a lot of ambient noise on it. What do you think about us boys getting together and playing on the track? I was like, well that's the best idea I think I've ever heard.

SIMON: Let me ask you a couple of questions I think might be on a lot of minds. Where did "Mercy" come from?

W. ORBISON: I heard that they were having to do multiple takes. It was a plea to take a break for a minute. Mercy, you know, he was out of breath and he wanted to retake.

SIMON: Yeah.

A. ORBISON: Yeah. The consciousness of a Southern gentleman like Roy Orbison to not cuss on tape.

SIMON: I'm struck by something that Bono says in this documentary. That real rebels have manners.

A. ORBISON: Yeah. You know, with Elvis, Elvis was letting everyone know exactly who Elvis Presley was. And, you know, my dad wasn't that type of person. So he just wasn't a self promoter like that.

SIMON: I've got to ask you this weekend, Father's Day. What kind of inheritance or legacy does your father leave you?

W. ORBISON: Well, besides being extremely farsighted...

(LAUGHTER)

W. ORBISON: Alex got that, that's for sure.

A. ORBISON: It's, you know, what I always say is when someone's gone, no matter how much longer they would have been with you, it wouldn't have been long enough.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SHE'S A MYSTERY TO ME")

R. ORBISON: (Singing) Darkness falls and she will take me by the hand. Take me to some twilight land.

SIMON: Thank you both very much, gentlemen for being with us.

W. ORBISON: Yeah, it's terrific. Thank you.

A. ORBISON: Thank you. Yeah, thanks for having us and happy Father's Day.

SIMON: Thank you. Alex and Wesley Orbison, they are in Nashville. The 25th anniversary reissue of their father Roy Orbison's "Mystery Girl" is out now.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SHE'S A MYSTERY GIRL")

R. ORBISON: (Singing) She's a mystery girl. She's a mystery girl. She's a mystery world.

SIMON: That voice. This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.