Crying (Roy Orbison song)

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Crying (Roy Orbison single).jpg
Single by Roy Orbison
from the album Crying
B-side"Candy Man"
ReleasedJuly 1961
LabelMonument 447
Producer(s)Fred Foster
Roy Orbison singles chronology
"Running Scared"
"Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)"

"Crying" is a song written by Roy Orbison and Joe Melson for Orbison's third studio album of the same name (1962). Released in 1961, it was a number 2 hit in the US for Orbison and was covered in 1980 by Don McLean, whose version went to number 1 in the UK.


Dave Marsh calls the song a "rock-bolero" with "blaring strings, hammered tympani, a ghostly chorus, the gentle strum of a guitar, [and] a hint of marimba".[1] Billboard observes an "expressive reading" on the "country-flavored ballad."[2] The personnel on the original recording included Orbison session regulars Bob Moore on bass; Floyd Cramer on piano; Buddy Harman on drums; and Boudleaux Bryant, Harold Bradley,[3] and Scotty Moore[4] on guitar.

Release and reception[edit]

The song was released as a 45-rpm single by Monument Records in July 1961 and reached No. 1 on the United States Cashbox chart for a week on October 7, 1961. On the rival Billboard Hot 100 it peaked at No. 2, where "Hit the Road Jack" by Ray Charles and his Orchestra kept it from No. 1.[5] Despite not reaching the summit in the latter publication, Billboard ranked the record as the No. 4 song of 1961.[6]

In 2002, "Crying" was honored with a Grammy Hall of Fame Award. In 2010, Rolling Stone ranked it 69th on their list of the "500 greatest songs of all time".[7]

Don McLean version[edit]

Crying - Don McLean.jpg
Single by Don McLean
from the album Chain Lightning
B-side"Genesis (In the Beginning)"
Don McLean singles chronology
"Since I Don't Have You"
"It's Just the Sun"

Don McLean's recording of the song went to No. 5 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in early 1981.[8] His version of "Crying" also reached No. 2 adult contemporary and No. 6 Country. It fared even better in the UK, where it reached No. 1, spending three weeks atop the UK Singles Chart.[9] McLean issued an album in 1981; however, "Crying" was taken from his 1978 album, Chain Lightning. It became his second greatest hit.


Roy Orbison and k.d. lang version[edit]

Single by Roy Orbison and k.d. lang
from the album King of Hearts and Hiding Out soundtrack
Roy Orbison singles chronology
"In Dreams"
"Handle with Care"
k.d. lang singles chronology
"Three Cigarettes in an Ashtray"
"Honky Tonk Angels Medley"

In 1987, Orbison rerecorded the song as a duet with k.d. lang as part of the soundtrack for the motion picture Hiding Out. Their collaboration won the Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals. It reached No. 2 in Lang's native Canada but was a minor US chart hit for the pair, peaking at No. 28 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and No. 42 on the Hot Country Singles chart. It was a more substantial hit in the United Kingdom and Ireland in 1992, reaching No. 13 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 9 on the Irish Singles Chart. In 1993, the song re-charted on the US Adult Contemporary chart, peaking at No. 40.


Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1987–1988) Peak
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[23] 2
Canada Adult Contemporary (RPM)[24] 5
Canada Country Tracks (RPM)[25] 25
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[26] 47
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[27] 28
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[28] 42
Chart (1992–1993) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[29] 71
Europe (Eurochart Hot 100)[30] 36
Ireland (IRMA)[31] 9
UK Singles (OCC)[32] 13
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[33] 40

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1988) Position
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[34] 45

Notable cover versions[edit]

Appearances in film, television and other media[edit]

  • US presidential candidate Mitt Romney mentioned this song among his top 10 songs of all time in March 2012.[39]
  • In 2011, "Crying" was featured in the American comedy-drama film 50/50.[40]
  • "Crying" was featured in an episode of Only Fools and Horses. The episode "Stage Fright" featured Raquel and a guest character (Tony Angelino, played by Philip Pope) singing this song at a function. Angelino had a rhotacism, causing him to pronounce his Rs incorrectly.
  • "Crying" is featured near the start of the first of the Australian telemovie trilogy Small Claims starring Rebecca Gibney and Claudia Karvan.
  • "Crying" was featured in the 1997 dystopian art movie Gummo. After huffing glue, Tummler remarks that his cross-dressing brother used to sing "Crying". Tummler then proceeds to weakly sing parts of the song. The original version of the song is used during the last scenes of the movie.
  • The song is featured in the 1999 film Paperback Hero, sung by Hugh Jackman and Claudia Karvan.
  • "Llorando" was featured in a famous scene in Mulholland Drive and during the closing scenes of Prison Break in season 3.
  • In Ally McBeal, season 2 episode 6 "Worlds Without Love", "Crying" is sung by Vonda Shepard.
  • In Sports Night, season 2, episode 14 ("And the Crowd Goes Wild"), Casey McCall wears sunglasses during the course of a day following an eye exam. His colleagues ridicule him for this, one of them saying, "Hit the high note in 'Crying' and I'll be impressed," in reference to Orbison and his trademark sunglasses.
  • In Castle Rock, Season 1, episode 4 ("The Box"), the song plays over character Dennis Zalewski's shooting rampage through Shawshank Prison.
  • In AMC's The Walking Dead, "Crying" is used to psychologically break down Daryl Dixon in the Season 7 Episode, The Cell (The Walking Dead).
  • In Bates Motel, "Crying" is played over the end scene in Season 5 Episode 6, Marion (Bates Motel).
  • In Mindhunter, "Crying" (Don McLean version) is played in episode 1, season 1.


  1. ^ Marsh, Dave (1999). The Heart of Rock & Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made. Da Capo Press. pp. 75–76. ISBN 030680901X.
  2. ^ "Spotlight Singles of the Week". Billboard: 27. July 31, 1961. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  3. ^ "Full Committee Hearing on Assessing the Impact of the Copyright Royalty Rates on Recording Artists and Webcasters". 2007.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Top 100 Songs - Billboard Hot 100 Chart". Billboard.
  6. ^ Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1961
  7. ^ "Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time". Rolling Stone. April 2010. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
  8. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 Chart History : "Crying" - Don McLean". Retrieved 2014-03-29.
  9. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 382. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  10. ^ " – Don Mclean – Crying" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 9 Sep 16.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-11. Retrieved 2016-03-08.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "NZ Top 40 Singles Chart | The Official New Zealand Music Chart". 1980-10-19. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  13. ^ "South African Rock Lists Website SA Charts 1969 – 1989 Acts (M)". Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  14. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–2002
  15. ^ "Top 100 1981-03-28". Cashbox Magazine. Retrieved 2015-05-27.
  16. ^ David Kent's "Australian Chart Book 1970-1992" Archived March 5, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ "Dutch Charts -".
  18. ^ "Top 20 Hit Singles of 1980". Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  19. ^ "UK Singles of the Year" (PDF). Record Mirror. London: Spotlight Publications. December 27, 1980. p. 30. Retrieved June 13, 2016.
  20. ^ The 1981 Top 100 Singles chart is identified by the RPM Year-End article "Top 100 Singles (1981)". RPM. Retrieved 2018-01-05.
  21. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1981/Top 100 Songs of 1981". Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  22. ^ "Top 100 Year End Charts: 1981". Cashbox Magazine. Archived from the original on 2012-09-18. Retrieved 2016-07-19.
  23. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 0941." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  24. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 8898." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  25. ^ "Top RPM Country Tracks: Issue 0945." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  26. ^ " – Roy Orbison with k.d. lang – Crying". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  27. ^ "Roy Orbison Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  28. ^ "Roy Orbison Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  29. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
  30. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 9 no. 37. 12 September 1992. p. 15. Retrieved 22 July 2020.
  31. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Crying". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  32. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  33. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 180.
  34. ^ "Top 100 Singles of '88" (PDF). RPM. Vol. 49 no. 10. 24 December 1988. p. 9. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
  35. ^ Whitburn, p. 179
  36. ^ Whitburn, p. 279
  37. ^ Whitburn, p. 472
  38. ^ Taubin, Amy (September–October 2001). "In Dreams", Film Comment, 37 (5), p. 51–55.
  39. ^ "Mitt Romney names the greatest tunes off all time". Politico. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  40. ^ "IMDB soundtrack list for the movie 50/50". 2011. Retrieved 2014-03-29.

External links[edit]