Running Scared

Album: Greatest Hits (1961)
Charted: 9 1
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Songfacts®:

  • A song called "Running Scared" delivered in the trembling tones of Roy Orbison sure sounds pretty bleak, especially when he starts singing about the girl's past love and how she still feels for him. At the end, however, we find out that everything works out for the best, and the girl walks away with the singer. Orbison's plaintive voice led many to believe that all his songs were based on misery, but he liked to point out that this one has a happy ending.
  • Orbison began his career with Sun Records in Memphis, where he was a Rockabilly singer - in 1956 he reached #59 US with "Ooby Dooby," recorded with his group the Teen Kings. As a songwriter, he also cracked the charts with "So Long I'm Gone" (#72 for Warren Smith in 1957) and "Claudette" (#30 in 1958 for The Everly Brothers). After moving to Monument Records, Orbison went to Nashville and teamed with fellow songwriter Joe Melson. The pair began writing more operatic songs that would become huge hits for Orbison and define his style - songs that "give you an up mood while you're crying," as Melson put it. Their first major success was "Only The Lonely (Know The Way I Feel)," which was followed by "Blue Angel," "Up Town," "I'm Hurtin'" and "Running Scared," which the pair claimed they wrote in just five minutes.
  • This song, like most of Orbison's hits ("(Oh) Pretty Woman" is an exception), was recorded in RCA Studio B in Nashville with the session pros known as "The A-team." The engineer on these sessions was Bill Porter, who gave this song an exaggerated dynamic range, meaning some parts are very quiet and others are very loud. While most songs of the era had a range of about 3 decibels, Porter said that this one has 24.
  • This was the last song Roy Orbison ever sung live. His final performance was on December 4, 1988, just two days before his sudden passing, at a Cleveland-area venue. As was his usual habit, Orbison closed the show with "Running Scared."

Comments: 5

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyExactly sixty years ago today on June 5th, 1961, "Running Scared" by Roy Orbison peaked at #1 {for 1 week} on Billboard's Top 100 chart...
    One week earlier, "Running Scared" also peaked at #1 {for 1 week} on the Canadian CHUM Radio Singles chart...
    Between 1956 and 1992 the Vernon, Texas native had thirty-one records on the Top 100 chart, nine made the Top 10 with two reaching #1, the above "Running Scared" and "Oh, Pretty Woman" for three weeks in September of 1964...
    He just missed having a third #1 record when his "Crying" peaked at #2 {for 1 week} in October of 1961, for the week it was at #2, the #1 record for that week was "Hit The Road Jack" by Ray Charles...
    One of his thirty-one charted records was a duet with Emmylou Harris, "That Lovin' You Feelin' Again", it reached #55 in 1980...
    Two of his thirty-one charted records were as a member of the Traveling Wilburys, "Handle With Care" {at 45 in 1988} and "End of The Line" {at #63 in 1989}...
    Sadly, Roy Kelton Orbison passed away at the young age of 52 on December 6th, 1988 {a heart attack}...
    And from the 'For What It's Worth' department, the remainder of Billboard's Top 10 on June 5th, 1961:
    At #2. "Travelin' Man" by Ricky Nelson {which preceded and then succeeded "Running Scared" at #1}
    #3. "Daddy's Home" by Shep and the Limelites
    #4. "Mama Said" by The Shirelles
    #5. "I Feel So Bad" by Elvis Presley
    #6. "Stand By Me" by Ben E. King
    #7. "Moody River" by Pat Boone
    #8. "A Hundred Pound of Clay" by Gene McDaniels
    #9. "Raindrops" by Dee Clark
    #10. "Breakin' In A Brand New Broken Heart" by Connie Francis
  • Anton from EarthWhat an remarkable talent. Once heard a story about an Orbison song, think it was this one (not sure story is true). Aftar the first try, the audio tech told Orbison his voice wasn't strong enough to be heard over the instrumentation at the end. Roy agreed to redo it, and told the tech, "You'll be able to hear my voice this time". The result was this masterpiece.
  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaWhat always amazed me about Roy is if you watch him sing it's like there is no work involved in hitting all those high notes. it's amazing.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyAs stated above, "Running Scared" was his last song he performed live; the concert was in the Front Row Theater in Highland Heights, Ohio...
    Twenty seven years earlier on April 10th, 1961 "Running Scared" entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and on June 5th, 1961 it peaked at #1 (for 1 week) and spent 17 weeks on the chart...
    The record that preceded it and succeeded it at #1 was "Travelin' Man" by Ricky Nelson...
    R.I.P. Mr. Orbison (1936 - 1988) and Mr. Nelson (1940 - 1985).
  • Bubblesk from Memphis, TnWhen this Big "O" hit was in airplay it made such an impact on the rock & roll audience because of the dramatic arrangement, Orbison's super-voice, and the lyrics. Back in 1961, every time it was on the radio, I just had to turn up the volume as it reached the emotional crescendo. Wow! And it reached Number One. And I learnedto love the big productions by Orbison's producer Fred Foster put into the recordings. I've loved this Orbison hit ever since. Personally, I think Mr. Foster outdid Phil Spector in production quality. Now--- a story for you. Back in 1968, I was in Nashville walking in front of the Grand Old Opry building just sightseeing with friends and saw Mr. Orbison and his friends drive down the street in a white Cadillac convertible! It left a lasting impression on me to see one of my idols when I least expected it.
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