Dad's Music Week: Roy Orbison's THE MONUMENT SINGLES COLLECTION [2011]

Nearly all of us have had one or more people who were our portals into music and for me that person was my father, HERC SR. It wasn't intentional, this I know, it just happened - he liked music, played it constantly so I picked it up through osmosis and then I was off and running. He never discouraged me, Mom says it was always his first inclination to buy me an album for any occasion and so I received lots of good stuff, stuff he knew I'd like. He never pushed his favorites on me or passed judgement on the stuff I liked.  And as the years passed, the tables turned and I began turning him onto lots of good music, paying him back for all the great musical treasures he had bestowed upon me. Yet standing here today, surrounding by so much music in various physical forms from 8-track tapes to vinyl, I find myself seeking comfort in the bands and artists and songs I knew he loved. It is nearly impossible to listen to any song without thinking of him and that makes him immortal.
Around the same time my Dad got rid of his 8-tracks, he also dumped his lifelong collection of 45s in the trash bin.  Several of those 45s were original pressings from the Fifties and Sixties, though he had continued to buy 45s up until the Eighties.  When I asked him later why he didn't ask me if I wanted them, he told me that every other time he had asked me such a question, my answer was always no so he wasn't going to waste his or my time asking the question again. And he never did.  In addition to spending any spare change he accumulated on records, Dad acquired his 45s the usual way as a kid: his next door neighbor was the local jukebox service man whose job it was to regularly switch the records out in the jukeboxes across west Texas juke joints and bars.  Once a week the guy would give Dad a short stack of records, maybe a dozen 45s and tell him to share with his four brothers and sisters.  Almost all of the records were worn by the time got his hands on them and many of them wouldn't play right because they had been played so often in the jukeboxes.  But that is how his collection started and sixty years later, I only have memories to show for it.  But oh what memories.
Roy Orbison was a fellow Texan (notice a pattern, yet?) and despite Roy shunning his worldwide fame, Dad felt like many other teenagers of the late Fifties and early Sixties that he was singing what they all felt and what it was like to have loved and lost.  I never got Roy Orbison growing up - I knew Dad loved his music and that many of my favorite artists (Linda Ronstadt, Van Halen) covered his songs.  I mean I watched the Cinemax concert special A Black And White Night and was more impressed with the guest artists than the guest of honor, Orbison.  Then the Traveling Wilburys hit in 1988 and Dad mentioned their song "Handle With Care" on a phone call as that "new Orbison song" and asked if I gotten the album.  I had it and soon I sent him a cassette dub of Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1, which I followed up with a legit CD at Christmas, shortly after Orbison passed.  What I didn't expect was to fall in love with Roy Orbison's voice nearly thirty years after his first hit but that was what happened with his involvement in the The Traveling Wilburys.  I was already a fan of Harrison, Petty, Lynne and Dylan so I began backfilling Orbison's discography, borrowing Dad's CD copy of The All-Time Greatest Hits Of Roy Orbison on a visit back home in 1989. I picked up Rhino's excellent For The Lonely: 18 Greatest Hits and then in 1990, as part of my subscription to Time-Life's Rock N Roll Era series, received the Roy Orbison 1960-1965 CD.
Before the end of 1990, the second Traveling Wilburys disc, Volume 3, was released but Dad had to wait until I bought it for his birthday the following year.  He didn't care for it much if at all because Orbison wasn't involved and as a result he didn't listen to it that much.  When I inherited his CD collection this past May, I would bet that Volume 3 is the cleanest disc in the bunch - almost all of his other discs have dust or fingerprints on one or both sides of the disc but not that one.  It is pristine.  I probably played my copy of the disc a dozen or so times but Volume 1 continued to get lots of spins.  My Orbison obsession cooled down as my lovely wife and I gave our daughter two brothers and then once again I was interested in Orbison and had somehow missed two posthumous albums, each featuring a dynamite single but little else of interest, that had come out in 1989 and 1992, respectively.
I found them used along a box set, The Legendary Roy Orbison and dutifully sent them off to Dad after first making copies of the discs for myself.  And I don't recall Dad and I ever speaking of Orbison's music again until I picked up The Monument Singles Collection in 2011 and was blown away by the sound.  Others have been critical of the remastering but to my ears, the songs sounded better than ever, more intimate and quieter than the others but still vibrant and alive.  I raved about the album to Dad and sent him the set and he agreed that the sound was "better than new".  (When I was futzing about with his iTunes library back in May, I was not surprised to see The Monument Singles Collection as the only representative of Roy Orbison's music.)
Is the album a Greatest "Greatest Hits" pick?  After much consideration, I don't think so.  The songs sound unbelievably great given their age, the chronological sequencing is welcome as are the B-sides to every single making it a true singles collection but they represent only one part of Roy's multi-stage career though admittedly the most influential and relevant part of his career - a comprehensive, career spanning single or double disc collection doesn't seem to exist yet so I make due with one of my own creation.

P.S.  Wanna hear Roy Orbison's disco song from 1979?

1 comment:

  1. 4 for 4! – Wouldn't call my Mom a big Roy Orbison fan at all, but she indeed has several cassettes in her aforementioned collection. I think she watched his "Black & White Night" concert on one of the many pledge-drive airings on PBS years ago. She really dug that one, I know. I later added the "Hiding Out" soundtrack version of "Crying" he did with k.d. lang to one of her mixtapes. She loved that one more than the original.

    What a shame about your Dad's 45 collection, huh? Gives ol' Dirk chills just thinkin' about all that gold being thrown away. Great stories though, Herc... Keep 'em comin'!