Orbison wrote this with the songwriter Will Jennings, who had written the hugely successful theme song to An Officer And A Gentleman ("Up Where We Belong") in 1982 and went on to write "My Heart Will Go On" for Titanic. Says Jennings: "This song was written for a Nic Roeg film, Insignificance, in the summer of 1984. I had been engaged to write songs for the film with Stanley Myers, the composer for the project, and I asked the film company to get in touch with Roy, who I did not know at the time, to see whether he would like to do the main song for the film. I started work in California, went to Nashville and met with Roy, and we took a few days to develop the song I had started. Originally the title was "When Your Heart Runs Out Of Time." We intensified the lyric to "Wild Hearts Run Out Of Time." The film was about an imagined gathering of Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio, Albert Einstein and, I think, Senator Joseph McCarthy in Einstein's apartment in New York. Roy and I focused on Marilyn: the song is about reaching to save her before she destroys herself. Roy and I became great friends starting with this project and spent a lot of time together after he moved to California."
Orbison had a string of hits in the '60s, but fell on hard times as his career stalled and he was faced with personal tragedies, including the death of his wife in a motorcycle accident and a fire at his house that claimed the lives of 2 of his sons. Among songwriters and musicians, Orbison was revered, and prominent composers like Jennings and Billy Steinberg took the opportunity to work with him. Soon after this was released, Orbison's popularity went on the rise as he re-recorded many of his hits and joined Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, George Harrison and Jeff Lynne in The Traveling Wilburys before his death in 1988.
Jennings: "We became friends around writing the song, and I produced the record. We kept in touch and we wrote some in Nashville. And then when he moved out to L.A., he went and lived out in Malibu, and it was about 30 minutes from my house in Agoura Hills. He used to come over every week or so and write when we were in town. We wrote some good songs. He's from West Texas, grew up in the oil fields. I'm from East Texas, and I grew up in the oil fields. I'm still very close to his family." (Check out our interview with Will Jennings.)
Patrick from Torrance, Ca, CaYes, Roy's career stalled in the US when disco became popular in the 70's, but it didn't stall in Europe where Roy continued to chart hits. He never fell on financial hard times either as one of the original investors in Apple Computer. Roy was a musical genius and continues to inspire to this day.