Oh, Pretty Woman
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2008)|
|Single by Roy Orbison|
|B-side||"Yo te Amo María"|
|Genre||Rock and roll, country rock|
|Writer(s)||Roy Orbison, Bill Dees|
|Roy Orbison singles chronology|
"Oh, Pretty Woman" is a song, released in August 1964, which was a worldwide success for Roy Orbison. Recorded on the Monument Records label in Nashville, Tennessee, it was written by Roy Orbison and Bill Dees. The song spent three weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Billboard ranked the record as the No. 4 song of 1964. "Pretty Woman" was also Orbison's third single to top the UK Singles Chart chart (for a total of three weeks). The previous Orbison singles to reach No.1 in the UK were "Only the Lonely" in 1960 and "It's Over" earlier in 1964.
There were three guitar players on the session, Billy Sanford, Jerry Kennedy and Wayne Moss. Billy Sanford, who later played session for Elvis and Don Williams and many others, played the intro guitar. Williams introduced him as a kid who had just arrived Nashville, with a borrowed guitar, who heard Orbison was minus a guitar player, who went over and got the gig. Other musicians on the record included Floyd Cramer on piano, Bob Moore on an upright bass, Boots Randolph and Charlie McCoy on sax, and Buddy Harman and Paul Garrison on drums. Orbison also played a 12 string epiphone.
The record sold seven million copies and marked the high point in Orbison's career. Within months of its release, in October 1964, the single was awarded a gold record by RIAA. Orbison posthumously won the 1991 Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for his live recording of the song on his HBO television special Roy Orbison and Friends, A Black and White Night. In 1999, the song was honored with a Grammy Hall of Fame Award and was named one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it #222 on their list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time." On May 14, 2008, The Library of Congress selected the song for preservation in the National Recording Registry and in 2012, Texas Music magazine ranked the song No. 7 on its list of "The Top 50 Classic Texas Songs."
The lyrics tell the story of a man who sees a pretty woman walking by. He yearns for her and wonders if, as beautiful as she is, she might be lonely like he is. At the last minute, she turns back and joins him.
The title was inspired by Orbison's wife Claudette interrupting a conversation to announce she was going out; when Orbison asked if she was okay for cash, his co-writer Bill Dees interjected "A pretty woman never needs any money."
Lawsuit against 2 Live Crew
In 1989, the controversial rap group 2 Live Crew recorded a parody of the Orbison song, using the alternate title "Pretty Woman" for their album As Clean As They Wanna Be. The 2 Live Crew sampled the distinctive bassline from the Orbison song, but the romantic lyrics were replaced by talk about a hairy woman and her bald-headed friend and their appeal to the singer, as well as denunciation of a "two-timing woman."
Orbison's publisher, Acuff-Rose Music sued 2 Live Crew on the basis that the fair use doctrine did not permit reuse of their copyrighted material for profit. The case, Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc. went all the way to the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court decided in 2 Live Crew's favor, greatly expanding the doctrine of fair use and extending its protections to parodies created for profit. It is considered a germinal fair use decision.
Charts and certifications
Sales and certifications
"The House of the Rising Sun" by The Animals
|Billboard Hot 100 number one single
"Oh, Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbison
September 26, 1964 (three weeks)
"Do Wah Diddy Diddy" by Manfred Mann
"I'm Into Something Good" by Herman's Hermits
|UK number one single
"Oh, Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbison (first run)
October 8, 1964 (two weeks)
"(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me" by Sandie Shaw
"(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me" by Sandie Shaw
|UK number one single
"Oh, Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbison (second run)
November 12, 1964 (one week)
"Baby Love" by The Supremes
Cover versions and parodies
The song has been covered by a number of artists:
- In 1964, Johnny Rivers recorded the song on his live album In Action.
- In 1972 by Al Green on his album I'm Still in Love With You.
- Victor Wood on his album In Despair under Vicor Records.
- In 1976 Andy Kim released a version of the song as a single, but it did not chart.
- In 1976 John Mellencamp also released a version of the song on the album Chestnut Street Incident, under the name Johnny Cougar
- In 1978 by Connie Francis in English and German, both versions changed the title from Pretty Woman to Lovin' Man. Aside from the change of title, the English version kept Orbison's original lyrics.
- In 1982 the song – titled "(Oh) Pretty Woman" – was covered by the group Van Halen on their album Diver Down, preceded by a guitar-driven intro titled "Intruder". The music video, which had the band dress as a samurai (played by bassist Michael Anthony), Tarzan (played by drummer Alex Van Halen), a cowboy (played by guitarist Eddie Van Halen), and Napoleon (played by frontman David Lee Roth), per a hunchbacked onlooker's request, rescuing a captive girl that turns out to be a transvestite) for this version was one of the first banned by MTV, due to its opening sequence, where the captive girl is tied up and fondled against her will by a pair of little people (the ban was eventually lifted, as MTV sister network VH1 Classic would later air the video). This was their second Top 20 pop hit, peaking at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100. Their version is playable in the video game Guitar Hero: Van Halen. Some lyrics and words were omitted, such as the line "Come with me baby, be mine tonight".
- In 1986 in ska style by the Holy Sisters of the Gaga Dada.
- Spoof heavy metal band Bad News covered the song c. 1987 (including it on the 2004 reissue of the Bad News album). As it quickly becomes obvious that the (fictional) band only know the opening lines (and repeat them over and over), the song descends into sarcasm, swearing and general disorder.
- Having performed the song in Deutschland sucht den Superstar, Daniel Küblböck recorded the song for his first album Positive Energie.
- In 1983, Hong Kong singer Sam Hui covered this song in Cantonese using his comedic lyrics about a woman that looks great from behind until she turned her head and revealed her not so good looking face.
- In 1990 Ricky Van Shelton covered the song on RVS III.
- In 1990, Alvin and the Chipmunks covered the song for the soundtrack to their TV documentary Rockin' Through the Decades.
- In 1991, Nokie Edwards performed an instrumental version of the song live in Japan.
- Ray Brown, Jr. released a jazz-style version of this song on the album Stand by Me
- Rockapella has released several versions of the song and was a concert staple for well over a decade. This song has also been parodied the song twice on Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? as musical clues for the gum shoe contestants.
- The Boogie Bass (one of the many variations of the popular Big Mouth Billy Bass) sang a parody of "Oh, Pretty Woman" titled "Pretty Fishy".
- Green Day has covered the song live.
- Westlife has covered the song live on their The Number Ones Tour.
- Sharleen Spiteri has covered the song in her album The Movie Songbook
- Bon Jovi covers this song live as a mix in with their own hits "Bad Medicine" or sometimes also "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead", with Bobby Bandiera helping on vocals since the Lost Highway Tour.
- On October 29, 2009 Bruce Springsteen and John Fogerty sang Oh, Pretty Woman live at the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame.
- South African singer Ray Dylan recorded a cover on his album Goeie Ou Country Vol. 2.
- In November 2013 The Overtones covered the song for their album Saturday Night at the Movies
In other media
- The original Orbison song inspired the title for the 1990 feature film, Pretty Woman starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts. The film featured the song, licensed from Orbison's publisher Acuff-Rose. Since the work that the film was based on bore a different title, the producers also licensed the trademark rights to the title.
- The song was licensed for the 2003 hit Bollywood film Kal Ho Naa Ho.
- The song appears in the film Dumb and Dumber.
- The song appears in the French movie La Cité de la Peur.
- The song is used as the ending song, covered by Kaela Kimura, in the Japanese television drama Attention Please.
- The Van Halen version of the song was used in the mall scene in the 1985 John Hughes film Weird Science. This has been replaced in UK broadcasts and the initial home video release in the US with the Weird Science theme music by Oingo Boingo, presumably due to music clearance issues. When Weird Science was re-released on DVD in 2006, it was restored.
- The song was used in the Chris Martin episode of Extras.
- The song is used in the Belgian film De Helaasheid der Dingen (The Misfortunates). In the movie the Strobbe family believes its fortunes are tied to that of Roy Orbison, leading them to follow his 1988 comeback concert with great enthusiasm.
- The song is used in Tamil film Goa, when Vaibhav meets Sneha for the first time.
- This song is featured in the Futurama season 3 episode "The Cyber House Rules".
- The song is playable in the videogame Band Hero. It was also released as downloadable content for the videogame Rock Band.
- The song is heard on The Chipmunks' record Rockin' Through the Decades and the episode, "Sploosh" (which was a spoof of the film Splash).
- The song is used in the episode Frank's Pretty Woman in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
- Van Halen's version is heard in a TV commercial for Nationwide Insurance that debuted during NBC's broadcast of Super Bowl XLIX on February 1, 2015.
- The Song's opening is used in The Critic Episode, "L.A. Jay"
- Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 85. ISBN 0-85112-250-7.
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- Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1964
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