Sitting around with co-writer Bill Dees stretching their songwriting muscles, Roy Orbison and Dees were interrupted by Orbison’s first wife, Claudette Frady, asking for some money to go to the drug store, to which Dees quipped, “Pretty woman never needs any money.”

By the time Frady got back, the original hipster woman-fawning ache of a snide ballad, dubbed “Oh, Pretty Woman,” was loosely cut, signature “mercy” catcalls and pavement-hugging bass line intact. The rest, along with the song’s perfect second verse, can be summed up in a 15-week Billboard charting run that kickstarted on this day in 1964, and a comment from Orbison’s second wife, Barbara: It’s “like Bruce Springsteen said: It’s the best girl-watching rock ‘n’ roll song ever:”


Pretty woman, won’t you pardon me
Pretty woman, I couldn’t help see
Pretty woman
That you look lovely as can be
Are you lonely just like me