While searching for a Jonathan Franzen short story sent to me a couple years ago, I came across a folder of old journal entries that date back to my senior year of high school. Included amongst this drivel is a letter to an ex-girlfriend and a lot of bad poetry. So, I thought I would share with you all, my ode to Roy Orbison. But first, a bit of history.

When Roy Orbison died in December of 1988, I was a freshman at Bowling Green State University. I had become attached to his music ever since hearing “In Dreams” featured in “Blue Velvet” and seeing the great Orbison perform on Saturday Night Live soon thereafter (I believe that Dennis Hopper was the host). Orbison had just been involved with the Traveling Wilburys and performed his final concert in Cleveland when he died. I can’t explain why I became so moved by his death. Looking back, my reaction made no sense to me. The night of his death, I called the BG radio station to get some Orbison played… and they didn’t have any! Although, they did have the single of “Handle With Care” by the Wilburys, which they played two times in a row for me. I hung a picture of Orbison on my dorm room door and soon I became known as that geek with the dead guy’s picture on his door. I could take the jokes. But when someone defaced my picture or Orbison, I lost it.

Again, I can’t explain my behavior. Perhaps because Orbison reminded me of my dad (in his demeanor and the way he looked), I felt like his death sort of tied into my dad’s own mortality. Who really knows what I was thinking. I was 19 and dumb. Anyway, after the incident with the picture on the door, I called my friend Bob and said to him, “They just don’t understand, man.” Can you say “freak”?

After that phone call, I sat down to write one of the angriest pieces I have ever come up with and I’d like to share it with you now. So…


He was lonely and dreamed of candy colored
sand men
He cried, only for the lonely, and
He loved pretty women.
But when my hero was dead,
They all laughed instead.
Is it so much to ask for respect?
Does anyone remember what an idol is,
Or do they only care about money?

(Dec. 7, 1988)

Ugh. Cue the finger snaps.


About the Author

Scott Malchus

Scott Malchus is a writer, filmmaker and die hard Cleveland Indians fan. His memoir, “Basement Songs,” is available in paperback and Kindle. He wrote and directed the film “King's Highway." His family is heavily involved in fund raising to find a cure for cystic fibrosis. Scott Malchus is an employee of Cartoon Network and Turner Broadcasting. The opinions expressed on Popdose are his own and do not reflect those of his employer. Email: Malchus@popdose.com. Follow him @MrMalchus

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