Orbison, Roy - 1961 Running Scared
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Back in the studio, seeking a change from the pop sound of "Only the Lonely" and "I'm Hurtin'", Orbison worked on a new song, "Running Scared", based loosely on the rhythm of Ravel's Boléro; the song was about a man on the lookout for his girlfriend's previous boyfriend, who he feared would try to take her away.
Orbison encountered difficulty when he found himself unable to hit the song's highest note without his voice breaking. He was backed by an orchestra in the studio and Porter told him he would have to sing louder than his accompaniment because the orchestra was unable to be softer than his voice.
Fred Foster then put Orbison in the corner of the studio and surrounded him with coat racks forming an improvised isolation booth to emphasize his voice.
Orbison was unhappy with the first two takes. In the third, however, he abandoned the idea of using falsetto and sang the final high 'A' naturally, so astonishing everyone present that the accompanying musicians stopped playing. On that third take, "Running Scared" was completed. Fred Foster later recalled, "He did it, and everybody looked around in amazement. Nobody had heard anything like it before."
Just weeks later "Running Scared" reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #9 in the UK.