|Day 199: Roy Orbison (It's Over)
November 9, 2022
Excuse my High Fidelity moment, but allow me to present the Top 10 Times Musically "It's Over":
#10) Boz Scaggs -- Hard putting this at #10, as Silk Degrees is one of my sister's favorite albums, and it has a level of cool that goes beyond "Lowdown" and "Lido Shuffle," but I am sorry, Boz, this is a mean-ass lyric: "Why can't you just get it through your head/it's over, it's over now." That "just" seems especially unnecessary.
#9) Level 42 -- "You gave me everything/and now I'm breaking your heart/You know that I don't mean/To tear your world apart." Not very convincing there, Mr. King.
#8) Elvis Presley -- Hard to generate much emotion over "this hour of love we share." Sorry, King.
#7) Rod Stewart -- A marriage dissolved narrative is always poignant, but, Rod, to rely on the near rhyme at the end? Oy! "In all the time I thought I knew ya/don't forget our children's future/I would do whatever suits ya/it's over."
#6) Squeeze -- Picture Difford and/or Tillbrook perpetually standing on the threshold: "But I won't leave if you're not sure/it's over/it's all over."
5) Electric Light Orchestra -- Frankly, really simple and straightforward: "don't shed a tear for me/it's over."
#4) The Cure -- "I get up/and it's over/it's always over." O.k. that's pretty brilliant, Robert. Since I am not including The Smiths' "I Know It's Over," because of the extra word, Robert Smith is one up on his musical rival.
#3) Aimee Mann -- Aimee elevates the relationship's-dead trope to a greater observation of life: "And you call it fate/when you show up too late/and it's over."
#2) Tom Waits -- How did this fantastic lyric, with the double meaning of "it's over" get buried on Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards? "You'll be buried in the clothes that you never wore/so, keep your suitcase by the door/it's over, let it go."
#1) Roy Orbison -- Was there ever any doubt? If you really want something over, you have no choice but to choose Roy Orbison's "It's Over."
First off, there's the voice. Orbison is the kind of guy that we say, as the old adage goes, could sing the phonebook (Gen Z, look it up) and make it sound beautiful. The vibrato in the second syllable of "oveeeerr" initially, then late for both freaking syllables with "ooooovveeeeerrr."
Then we add in the arrangement, voice then joined by the drum beat, then the strings, and finally the background singers, everything consistently ratcheted up a notch, fitting the notion of "operatic rock ballad," a phrase that no doubt was first coined with Roy.
Finally, this is one of the rare "It's Over" lyrics where the singer is telling someone else that it is over. This seems all the more devastating than the usual first person (whether from perspective of the dumpee or the dumper) narrative. Could there be anything more painful having a third party tell you that "your baby doesn't love you anymore. . . . your baby won't be near you anymore." These other songs on this list have perspective issues, as we question the immediacy of the narrator. With Orbison, it comes across as so publicly embarrassing, a kind of "dude, get your head out of you a$$ and figure out what's going in."
Is there any harsher way to learn "it's over?"
Orbison, Roy. "It's Over." More Of Roy Orbison's Greatest Hits. Monument, 1964. Link here.
Day 198: Depeche Mode "Policy of Truth"
Day 200: Thin Lizzy "Honesty Is No Excuse"
Unfinished list here.