A-to-Z Challenge 2023 – O is for Roy Orbison – Resilience in Songs #atozchallenge #songs

The 2023 A-to-Z blogging challenge theme is resilience. Resilience is the ability to get back on our feet and keep going after life knocks us down and kicks sand in our faces. Resilience is how the psyche survives and copes, but resilience doesn’t necessarily wear a cape of positivity.

The 26 songs I’ve chosen show us, musically, what resilience looks (sounds?) like. I’ll offer a reflection of the resilience in each song. The songs are alphabetical by the artist’s first name or the group’s name, except for M, O, U, and X.

#AtoZChallenge 2023 letter O

O is for Roy Orbison and Only the Lonely.

Only the Lonely was written by Roy Orbison and Joe Melson. Orbison released the song in May 1960, and it went on to be his biggest hit as well as the longest charting song of his career.

I had an aha writing about the resilience in this song. I’ve always considered this to be a song about romantic heartbreak, of romantic love and loss, and ultimately the singer’s lament of being hopelessly all out of hope to ever fall in love again.

The aha was realizing the lyrics could be stretched just a bit to also be about the death of a loved one.

There goes my baby
There goes my heart
They’re gone forever
So far apart

Whether this is lost love from a break-up or a death, the singer is struggling with loneliness from the heartaches he’s been through because of this loss, and all the crying he’s done when he thinks of his lost love is really getting him down. Still, though he’s drowning in sadness and loneliness, a ray of resilience shines through.

Maybe tomorrow
A new romance
No more sorrow

He might be giving himself a pep talk, or he’s lamenting to someone else about his sorrows. Either way, he rationalizes…

But that’s the chance
You gotta take
If your lonely heart breaks

The human ability to bounce back after loss and hardship, while knowing more loss and hardship may come our way, is amazing. Our need to give and receive love is a strong instinct. This is a song that shows that. This song is about giving love another try, which is resilience coming through in the form of hope for finding love again.

The song ends with the phrase, Only the lonely. He doesn’t complete his thought. He doesn’t have to in order to make his meaning clear, because only the lonely will understand. Nothing else needs to be said.

*Roy Orbison image – Jack de Nijs for Anefo, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Unti next time,
Kaye Spencer
writing through history one romance upon a time



  1. Very nice post. Orbison had such a beautiful voice. He was a true music legend. I can relate to the concept of losing love, being “lonely” for a spell, and then bouncing back. I’m on my 3rd marriage which now has lasted 26 years. Looks like I’ve finally found the right partner.


  2. Your insightful comments really but a different slant on this song for me. He’s down, but he isn’t out.

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