July 20, 2024

By the late 1950s, Roy Orbison was living in a small apartment in Nashville with his wife and baby, and he often used his car as a refuge to write songs. In 1958, Orbison’s friend rockabilly singer and songwriter Joe Melson tapped on his car window and asked if he could work with him on some songs.Roy Orbison's 'Mystery Girl' at 30: Alex Orbison Reflects on His Father's  Last Album

From there on, the two co-wrote and recorded a series of songs, including “Uptown”—later released as a bonus track to Lonely and Blue in 2006—along with “Come Back to Me (My Love),” “Blue Avenue,” “Blue Angel,” “I’m Hurtin’,” and “Twenty-Two Days,” which all made it on Orbison’s 1961 debut Lonely and Blue.

The duo also co-wrote the opening track, and Orbison’s first big hit, “Only the Lonely (Know The Way I Feel).”

Elvis and the Everly Bros.

When “Only the Lonely” was written Orbison and Melson initially wanted Elvis Presley or the Everly Brothers to cut the song, but both turned it down. The Everly Brothers suggested Orbison record the song himself, and he released it on Lonely and Blue.

The opening track on Lonely and Blue, “Only the Lonely” went to No. 2 on the Billboard pop chart and peaked at No. 14 on the R&B chart.

Though Presley initially turned down “Only the Lonely,” when the song was released he purchased a box of copies of the single and passed it on to his friends. Presley also called Orbison “quite simply, the greatest singer in the world,” during a performance in Las Vegas in 1976.

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