About the song

Ah, Only the Lonely (Know How I Feel), a cornerstone of 1960s rock and roll. Released in that very year, the song marked a turning point not only for the young artist, Roy Orbison, but also for the evolving sound of popular music. Orbison, already known for his powerful vocals, would redefine them with this track, ushering in an era of operatic rock.

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Now, some might scoff at the term “operatic” used alongside rock and roll. But Orbison’s voice, with its soaring range and dramatic flourishes, possessed a depth and theatricality more akin to the opera stage than the typical pop crooner. Only the Lonely perfectly showcased this quality. The melancholic melody, punctuated by Orbison’s signature baritone, created a soundscape of aching loneliness, a sentiment rarely explored with such raw intensity in the simpler rock and roll of the time.

Interestingly, the song wasn’t originally intended for Orbison. He, along with co-writer Joe Melson, had offered it to established names like The Everly Brothers and even Elvis Presley. Both acts, however, found the song to be “too dramatic.” This supposed drawback became Orbison’s signature strength. His brooding persona, often accentuated by his trademark dark sunglasses, perfectly complemented the song’s emotional weight.

Only the Lonely wasn’t just a vocal showcase, though. The instrumentation, particularly the melancholic mariachi-tinged trumpet line, added another layer of emotional depth. This wasn’t your typical teenage rebellion anthem. This was a ballad for the heartbroken, the ostracized, a sound that resonated deeply with a generation yearning for something more profound than the bubblegum pop dominating the charts.

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The song’s impact was undeniable. It became Orbison’s first major hit, reaching number one in the UK and staying on the charts for an impressive 24 weeks. It established him as a major force in popular music, paving the way for a string of future hits like Crying and Oh, Pretty Woman. More importantly, Only the Lonely helped redefine the boundaries of rock and roll. It proved that the genre could be more than just catchy hooks and youthful rebellion. It could be a platform for raw emotion, vulnerability, and operatic drama.

So, when you listen to Only the Lonely, you’re not just listening to a pop song. You’re experiencing a pivotal moment in music history, a moment where a young artist, with his powerful voice and a touch of operatic flair, dared to be different and, in doing so, changed the landscape of rock and roll forever.

Video

Lyrics

“Only The Lonely (Know How I Feel)”

Dum-dum-dum-dumdy-doo-wah
Ooh-yay-yay-yay-yeah
Oh-oh-oh-oh-wah
Only the lonely
Only the lonely

Only the lonely (dum-dum-dum-dumdy-doo-wah)
Know the way I feel tonight (ooh-yay-yay-yay-yeah)
Only the lonely (dum-dum-dum-dumdy-doo-wah)
Know this feeling ain’t right (dum-dum-dum-dumdy-doo-wah)

There goes my baby
There goes my heart
They’re gone forever
So far apart

But only the lonely
Know why
I cry
Only the lonely

Dum-dum-dum-dumdy-doo-wah
Ooh-yay-yay-yay-yeah
Oh-oh-oh-oh-wah
Only the lonely
Only the lonely

Only the lonely (dum-dum-dum-dumdy-doo-wah)
Know the heartaches I’ve been through (ooh-yay-yay-yay-yeah)
Only the lonely (dum-dum-dum-dumdy-doo-wah)
Know I cry and cry for you (dum-dum-dum-dumdy-doo-wah)

Maybe tomorrow
A new romance
No more sorrow
But that’s the chance

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You gotta take
If your lonely heart breaks
Only the lonely

Dum-dum-dum-dumdy-doo-wah