Running Scared

Roy Orbison

About Running Scared

"Running Scared" is a song written by Roy Orbison and Joe Melson and sung by Orbison. An operatic rock ballad, the recording of the song was overseen by audio engineer Bill Porter and released as a 45rpm single by Monument Records in March 1961 and went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. "Running Scared" also reached No.9 in the UK Singles Chart. It sold over one million copies in the US alone. The song was included on Orbison's 1962 album Crying as the final track on the album. Noted for being a song written without a chorus, the song builds in the lyrics, arrangement, and vocals to a climax that, without vibrato, demonstrates the power of Orbison's clear, full voice. It is written in the bolero style; Orbison is credited with bringing this to the rock genre. Fred Foster, producer of the session and of Monument Records, did not want the powerful high note that ends the song to end in falsetto but in full or natural voice. According to Foster, the last note that ends the song is actually G above High C in full natural voice. The note is actually tenor high A, over Middle C. While "Running Scared" was an international hit, the B-side "Love Hurts" also picked up significant airplay in Australia. Consequently, chart figures for Australia show "Running Scared"/"Love Hurts" as a double A-side, both sides peaking at number five. This makes Orbison's recording of "Love Hurts" the first version to be a hit. "Love Hurts" later became better known in a version by rock band Nazareth, who had an international hit with it in 1975. 


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Just runnin' scared
Each place we go
So afraid
That he might show
Yeah, runnin' scared
What would I do
If he came back
And wanted you?

Just runnin' scared
Feelin' low
Runnin' scared
You love him so
Just runnin' scared
Afraid to lose
If he came back
Which one would you choose?

Then all at once he was standing there
So sure of himself, his head in the air
My heart was breaking, which one would it be?
You turned around and walked away with me

 Watch: New Singing Lesson Videos Can Make Anyone A Great Singer

Roy Orbison

Roy Kelton Orbison (April 23, 1936 – December 6, 1988), also known by the nickname 'The Big O', was an American singer-songwriter, best known for his distinctive, powerful voice, complex compositions, and dark emotional ballads. Orbison grew up in Texas and began singing in a rockabilly/country and western band in high school until he was signed by Sun Records in Memphis. His greatest success came with Monument Records between 1960 and 1964, when 22 of his songs placed on the Billboard Top Forty, including "Only the Lonely", "Crying", and "Oh, Pretty Woman". His career stagnated through the 1970s, but several covers of his songs and the use of "In Dreams" in David Lynch's Blue Velvet revived his career in the 1980s. In 1988, he joined the supergroup Traveling… more »

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Written by: Joe Melson, Roy Orbison

Lyrics © Orbi-Lee Music, Barbara Orbison Music Company, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, R-Key Darkus

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind

10 facts about this song

Release and Success
"Running Scared" by Roy Orbison was released in 1961 and became a major hit. It reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and was an international success.
Unique Composition
The song is known for not having a chorus. Instead, Orbison's passionate and emotional delivery drives the narrative.
Dramatic Climax
The song has a dramatic climax which Orbison nails every time with his remarkable vocal range. The climax is reached near the end of the song on the line "too late."
Collaboration with Joe Melson
"Running Scared" was co-written by Orbison and Joe Melson. The two had a strong songwriting partnership, producing many of Orbison's biggest hits.
Minimal Instrumentation
The song is renowned for its minimal use of instruments, relying on a small string section and barely-there percussion.
Influential Ballad
"Running Scared" is considered a landmark ballad in the pop genre and has influenced a number of artists including Bruce Springsteen and Chris Isaak.
Grammy Hall of Fame
The song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2009, a special Grammy award established in 1973 to honor recordings that are at least twenty-five years old, and that have "qualitative or historical significance."
Presence in Movies
It was notably used in the films Silver Linings Playbook (2012) and Mulholland Drive (2001), among others.
Bolero Style
"Running Scared" was influenced by the bolero, a style of music first popularized in Cuba in the late 19th century, and known for its slow tempo and Spanish influences.
Stereo vs. Mono Recording
The original 1961 recording was in mono, a standard practice at the time. It was later re-recorded and re-released in stereo.

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