The singer, musician and Roy Orbison historian reveals the 10 songs that made him fall in love with music…
Now living in Nashville, seasoned rock’n’roller and Roy Orbison guru Marcel Riesco was an integral part of the 2017 book, The Authorized Roy Orbison, put together by Roy’s sons Alex and Wesley, so his soundtrack was always going to include the ‘Big O’. In his enviable career thus far, Marcel has shared stages with The Crickets, The Mavericks’ Raúl Malo, the late Glen Campbell, Billy Burnette and many more; he’s performed In Dreams – The Roy Orbison Story in Australia to sold out crowds; and was nominated twice for Best Rockabilly Male at the Ameripolitan Music Awards in Memphis, in 2017 and 2019. For his ultimate Top 10 tunes, Marcel explained: “This list seems fairly accurate today as I reminisce and attempt to compile years of memories racing across my brain,” says Marcel. “Some titles I painfully had to leave out, obviously, and some are there for ceremonial reasons. In the end, I hope this entertains you while you read it!”
THE TRAVELING WILBURYS
Handle With Care
My life changed drastically after hearing this song on the radio in late 1988. I could identify some of the singers but I had to ask about the mysterious voice that sang the bridge so marvellously. It was Roy Orbison. Then I saw the video and my curiosity busted wide open. Who was this man really? I was forever set on what I wanted to do too – I wanted to be a singer. I was baffled when the DJ happened to mention Orbison had just passed away. Soon afterwards I started my first band.
What an amazingly easy, yet delightful Buddy Holly song – though he didn’t write it, he totally made it his own. Words Of Love was one of the first ones I could kinda play all the way through but when I realised I needed two voices I figured I would just concentrate on listening to it instead of trying to play it. It made me happy to play Oh, Boy! and I benefited from its simplicity. There’s something special about this number, and it seems like it’s always been there, like Greek Mythology.
MARTY MCFLY AND THE STARLIGHTERS
Johnny B Goode
This is another turning point in my life, and I remember vividly when Back To The Future showed on television. The scene at the dance just drove me nuts, and right there and then I figured out I wanted to be an entertainer besides also being a singer. The Earth Angel part in that scene was captivating, but it was Johnny B Goode which really fired me up. Of course, this was one of the first songs I performed on stage when I got my little band going.
It’s A Sin
It was in high school when one of my teachers brought to class an old Bill Haley cassette he wanted to use for some kind of experiment. He took this cassette apart, proved his point after a while, and left the tape all tangled up on the floor as class dismissed. Of course I grabbed it and took it home – it was Calling All Comets, by Bill Haley And The Comets, and I remember letting it roll for the first time and the beautiful It’s A Sin came on loud and clear. This tune impressed me more than all the others.
Only The Lonely
I still remember the revelation of hearing Roy’s young voice for the first time. It was All-Time Greatest Hits, and Only The Lonely was the opening groove. Holy Moly, it sounded like heaven! The voice I heard was almost from a different planet. It was so clear and perfect I just couldn’t believe it. Soon I understood; it was like I’d gone on an intensive course, you know when sometimes you happen to learn more from a two-minute record than you ever learnt in school? This was one of those cases.
Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby (alternate take)
To me Carl Perkins was the King Of Rockabilly. He is up there with Chuck Berry when it comes to creating a guitar sound – man, nobody ever sounded like him! This alternate take of Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby has no breaks and it rocks as much as it rolls all the way through. Perkins’ style and guitar gymnastics influenced me a great deal, and still today I carry my Carl Perkins manual with me every time I go on tour.
Don’t Be Cruel
Elvis’ debut single on Sun changed the world forever. I would need to write a Top 10 list of only Elvis tunes, but if I was pressured at gunpoint and had to choose one it would be Don’t Be Cruel, although tomorrow when the gun is put away I might give you a different answer. Don’t Be Cruel offered something different to me: it was rockin’, good to dance to, sweet, sexy… all in one. Of course I played this one with my band too, together with a whole bunch of Elvis material. How could I not?
A long time ago, a schoolmate of mine had an Elvis record and he lent it to me. I didn’t tell him I didn’t have a record player, although I knew my neighbour did, so I went over and had the record copied to cassette. Absolutely, yes, Chuck Berry could really write a song and he is the master at rock and roll songwriting. I do like his version, but here the song just catapults itself into outer space with Elvis really swingin’ it and owning it, James Burton, Ronnie Tutt… Wow, just amazing.
ROY ORBISON AND THE TEEN KINGS
It’s hard to believe there was a time in rock and roll history when Ooby Dooby was not around. It’s easy to understand how Sam Phillips was so interested in this little ditty and, in fact, Ooby Dooby became one of the best-selling Sun singles. Roy certainly made me go bananas trying to figure out that guitar break. It meant a lot once I got it down. Naturally, this also became one of the first songs I played live, and I wore the strings out of my axe rockin’ this out.
You’re Still On My Mind
This is definitely the latest addition to the list. Perhaps the ultimate country song of all time, I totally fell in love with this number recently when I moved to Nashville and heard a band do it. It kinda jogged my memory when I heard it, and I realised I probably had it in the back of my head somewhere. It’s certainly become part of our live set. The thing about this song is, it conjures up everything you need to know about country music. If you ever have to show country music to a Martian, this has to be the tune.