For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday, Jim Adams has asked us to select a song featured prominently in a movie. Well, for me this was a no brainer. My wife’s all-time favorite movie is “Pretty Woman” with Richard Gere and Julia Roberts. And the 1964 Roy Orbison song, “Oh, Pretty Woman,” was eventually the basis for that 1990 film.
Written by Orbison and Bill Dees, “Oh, Pretty Woman” spent three weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in September 1964. The record ultimately sold seven million copies and was ranked the number four song that year.
Orbison was writing with his songwriting partner, Bill Dees, at his house when he told Dees to get started writing by playing anything that came to mind. Orbison’s wife, Claudette, came into the room and said she was going to go into town to buy something. Orbison asked if she needed any money, and Dees cracked, “Pretty woman never needs any money.” Inspired, Orbison started singing, “Pretty woman walking down the street.”
The song tells 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.
“Oh, Pretty Woman” was Orbison’s last big hit. His career faded fast, but was revived in the ’80s when prominent musicians like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and George Harrison cited him as an influence and invited him to join various projects. He was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and joined The Traveling Wilburys with Dylan, Tom Petty, Harrison, and Jeff Lynne. As he was enjoying this career revival, he died of a heart attack on December 6, 1988 at age 52.
Here are the lyrics to “Oh, Pretty Woman.”
Pretty woman, walkin’ down the street
Pretty woman the kind I like to meet
Pretty woman I don’t believe you, you’re not the truth
No one could look as good as you, mercy
Pretty woman won’t you pardon me
Pretty woman I couldn’t help but see
Pretty woman that you look lovely as can be
Are you lonely just like me
Pretty woman stop awhile
Pretty woman talk awhile
Pretty woman give your smile to me
Pretty woman yeah, yeah, yeah
Pretty woman look my way
Pretty woman say you’ll stay with me
‘Cause I need you, I’ll treat you right
Come with me baby, be mine tonight
Pretty woman don’t walk on by
Pretty woman don’t make me cry
Pretty woman don’t walk away, hey, okay
If that’s the way it must be, okay
I guess I’ll go on home, it’s late
There’ll be tomorrow night, but wait
What do I see?
Is she walkin’ back to me?
Yeah, she’s walkin’ back to me
Oh, oh, pretty woman