There was rock and roll. There was pop music. There was Roy Orbison.
A true outlier, Roy Orbison remains an anomaly in the canon of popular music. Starting with his breakthrough hit Only the Lonely in 1960, Orbison’s orchestrated creations blurred the lines between rock and roll, pop and classical music, sounding like nothing else on the radio at the time. And that voice. Oh, that voice. Elvis Presley believed Roy was “the greatest singer in the world” and Dwight Yoakam likened his voice to “the cry of an angel falling backward through an open window.” Far from offering the puffed up machismo of his contemporaries, Roy sung of real emotion – loneliness, heartache, insecurity – hardly the image of the “man’s man” that society attached to masculinity at the time, but was ultimately what everyone actually felt inside. His dream-like stories, incomparable song structures and peerless recordings inspired artists from wholly disparate genres: Bruce Springsteen, The Bee Gees, U2 and The Beatles all claimed to have been influenced by him.
The separation between Orbison’s life and art is hard to pinpoint. His personal life was marred by unthinkable tragedies and, hiding behind dark sunglasses, his public persona was a shadowed mystery that led his career through many ups and downs. Was he a man lost In Dreams? Was he Running Scared? Who really asked that Pretty Woman “Are you lonely just like me?” From success overseas to a misguided foray into disco to being a member of the supergroup The Traveling Wilburys, Orbison saw it all. Tragically, being an outsider for over two decades after his first hits, Orbison died just as his star was on the rise again.
It was 1989 when musician Patrick Brealey first heard the refrain of Orbison’s posthumous single You Got It. He was hooked. Nearly 30 years after his first hit, Orbison’s inimitable voice once again cut through the airwaves as something truly unique. His mysterious legacy would haunt Brealey as an inspiration for years to come. With his own distinctive voice that has led people to say it belongs to another era, Brealey is releasing his third solo album in the fall of 2014, has toured from Whitehorse to St. John’s and performs regularly in Toronto. When he added Orbison’s coveted ballad Crying to his set heads began to turn. CBC host Tom Power claimed “Patrick Brealey has one of the best country voices in Canada” and has said on several occasions that his voice evokes similar emotions as Orbison’s. Powerful, touching, honest.
It has been a lifelong dream of Brealey’s to put on a show dedicated to the music and career of Roy Orbison. And here it is.