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 ballad written by Roy Orbison and Joe Melson that was a hit for Roy Orbison.


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, and Scotty Moore 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 100and peaked at No. 2, where Hit the Road Jack by Ray Charles and his Orchestra kept it from No.1.[3] Despite not reaching the summit in the latter publication, Billboard ranked the record as the No. 4 song of 1961.[4]

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. The duet version was a minor US chart hit for the pair, peaking at No. 28 Adult Contemporary and No. 42 on the hot country singles chart,[5] though it was a more substantial hit in the UK in 1992, reaching No. 13 on the UK Singles Chart. In 1993, the song recharted on the US Adult Contemporary chart, peaking at No. 40.[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
"Wonderful Baby"
"It's Just the Sun"

Don McLean recorded by far the most successful cover of the song, taking it 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.

Chart performance[edit]

Other cover versions[edit]

Live cover performances[edit]

  • Carrie Underwood performed this song in the "Top 3" episode of the popular singing show American Idol. Underwood later won the competition.
  • Emily Vinette performed this song in the "Top 10" episode of Canadian Idol's third season. Vinette was voted off the next night. Ashley Coulter performed the song in the "Top 6" episode of season four. She was also voted off the next night.
  • In the final round of season two of the talent show America's Got Talent, ventriloquist Terry Fator used his puppet turtle "Winston" to perform this song, while impersonating Roy Orbison. Fator received the highest number of votes and won the competition along with the one million dollar prize.
  • In 2009 "Crying" was performed by Jamie 'Afro' Archer on the UK version of The X Factor.
  • American Idol season 12 finalist Kree Harrison performed "Crying" during Music of the American Idols week.
  • Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band covered the song live in May 1988, in Madison Square Garden.
  • In 2016, The Voice US finalist Billy Gilman performed this song at the Live Playoffs round.

Appearances in film, television and other media[edit]

  • U.S. Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney mentioned this song among his top 10 songs of all time in March 2012.[30]
  • In 2011, "Crying" was featured in the American comedy-drama film 50/50.[31]
  • "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 (TV Series), "Crying" is used to psychologically break down Daryl Dixon in the Season 7 Episode, The Cell (The Walking Dead).


  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. ^
  4. ^ Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1961
  5. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 305. ISBN 0-89820-177-2.
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 180.
  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.
  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. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-05-27. Retrieved 2015-05-27.
  16. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Crying". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved December 23, 2018.
  17. ^ David Kent's "Australian Chart Book 1970-1992" Archived March 5, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
  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. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-07-19.
  23. ^ Eder, Bruce. Gentle on My Mind at AllMusic. Retrieved August 19, 2017.
  24. ^ Taubin, Amy (September–October 2001). "In Dreams", Film Comment, 37 (5), p. 51–55.
  25. ^ "Covers by Nicholis Louw". WhoSampled. Retrieved 2014-03-29.
  26. ^ "Check out Russian Red Performing "Crying!"". Roy Orbison. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 27 April 2015.
  27. ^ Whitburn, p. 179
  28. ^ Whitburn, p. 279
  29. ^ Whitburn, p. 472
  30. ^ "Mitt Romney names the greatest tunes off all time". Politico. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  31. ^ "IMDB soundtrack list for the movie 50/50". 2011. Retrieved 2014-03-29.

External links[edit]