Oh, Pretty Woman
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2008)|
|Single by Roy Orbison|
|B-side||"Yo Te Amo Maria"|
|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. "Pretty Woman" was also Orbison's third single to top the British singles 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 everybody from Elvis to Don Williams (and took to the road with Don in the 1990s) did the kick-off. 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.
Five years after its release, in 1969, the single was awarded 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."
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 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.
Cover versions and parody
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 bass-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. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Hong Kong's Samuel 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.
- 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 this song in her album The Movie Songbook
- Bon Jovi covers this song live as a mix in with "Bad Medicine", with Bobby Bandiera helping on vocals on The Circle Tour
- On October 29, 2009 Bruce Springsteen and John Fogerty sang Oh, Pretty Woman live at the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame.
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.
- Bronson, Fred (2003). The Billboard Book of #1 Hits, 5th Edition (Billboard Publications), page 157.
- "American certifications – Roy Orbison – Pretty Woman". Recording Industry Association of America.
- Jackson, Matt. (1995). Commerce versus art: The transformation of fair use. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 39, 190-199.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 8th Edition (Billboard Publications), page 656.
"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