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Roy OrbisonShe’s a Mystery to Me (1989)

“I don’t think I’ve been any more lonely than anyone else… Although if you grow up in West Texas, there are many ways to be lonely.” – Roy Orbison

The Big O meets The Big Ego. Composed by Bono as a respectful tribute, ‘She’s a Mystery to Me’ was released in February of 1989, the lead single off Orbison’s ‘comeback’ album Mystery Girl. Both single and album came out posthumously with Orbison passing away in December of 1988 at the age of 52, succumbing to a fatal heart attack just as he was experiencing a career rejuvenation.

Growing up in a household amidst a family where the music of the 50’s and 60’s was either blaring from a record player or radio station, I was familiar with Orbison’s classic hits such as ‘Pretty Woman‘, ‘Crying‘ and ‘Only The Lonely‘  but his music, that haunting voice only began to have any kind effect on me in early adulthood.

One night many moons ago sitting in the back of a taxi  and on the way home from a nightclub with a girl that I was somewhat taken with at that time, Orbison’s trembling voice shook the taxi radio, She’s a Mystery to Me’s swirling, circular melody taking flight  and out of nothing a perfect moment alignment of fantasy and reality  was born.

Emboldened by sentimentalism and a false sense of indestructibility at that moment, I uttered a few dazed words about how much I loved the song.  I awaited my exalted companions response. With a hint of embarrassment and condescension, she replied ‘It’s nice…but kind of cheesy’  From that moment on, I realized that long-term compatibility would be a problem. But rather than feeling deflated, in its place   was a thrilling sense of affirmation.

This song with Orbison’s haunting voice  weaving its magic  had seized my imagination, nourished my nervous, furtive romanticism and transformed that moment  into an experience that was almost religious. It had shown me that music could create a sense of harmony, an overpowering feeling of one’s place in the universe that transcended time and the transient nature of our own existence.

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