"She's a Mystery to Me" - Orbison, Roy


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Full Track Listing:

  • She’s a Mystery to Me (4:16)
  • Dream Baby (Live) (2:58)
  • Crying (With K.D. Lang)

Background Information

The single “She’s a Mystery to Me” was released in February 1989, as the first single to promote Roy Orbison’s “Mystery Girl” album. The song also loaned its name to the album. The song was written by Bono and The Edge, specifically for Orbison to sing, and he was able to record the song before his death at the end of 1988. The song, “She’s a Mystery To Me” was written by Bono and the Edge, and featured Bono on guitar, as well as crediting him with production.

Bono had written the song for Orbison in 1987. Bono had discovered Orbison’s “In Dreams” while watching the film Blue Velvet. One night while having difficulty sleeping in London he put a tape on with that song included, and he describes always waking up on that song.

“So the next day I woke up and I started this song, ‘She’s a Mystery to Me.’ I became a bore and talked about Roy Orbison all day. I played the song — or what I’d started of the song — to the others in the band and they liked that. Or maybe they liked the fact that it stopped me talking about Roy Orbison. (laughs) I was just going on and on about him. Anyway, after the concert in Wembley Arena I came back and I was sitting down in the dressing-room, working on this song and basically trying to order everybody into buying ever Roy Orbison record ever made, when there was a knock on the door.”

“It was our security man, John, and he says, ‘Listen, I’ve got Roy Orbison outside, could he come in?’ And everybody just looked at me and I said, “Look, I didn’t know he was at the show.’ Nobody had told us he was coming. So there was much laughter and abuse…And he walked in and just said (quiet American accent) ‘I’m an instinctive kinda guy and I can’t tell ya why I loved the show but I loved the show.’ Then we got talking about songs and he asked for one, so I just took out the guitar and I played him ‘She’s a Mystery to Me.’ The song was started on June 2, 1987 as U2 played Wembley Arena, and Roy Orbison met them backstage on that evening. Orbison agreed to meet with U2 again later in the year, and that gave Bono time, with assistance from the Edge, to complete the song “She’s a Mystery to Me”. It was recorded with Bono once again present in late 1988.

The single was released in mulitple formats, including 7-Inch vinyl, 12-Inch vinyl, 5-Inch and 3-Inch CD, as well as cassette. On the 7-Inch the recording was backed with “Crying” in Europe, and with “Dream Baby” in North America. The 12-Inch vinyl, 3-Inch and 5-Inch CD would contain both of these tracks. The cassette single issued in North America just contained “Dream Baby”.

A video for the song was filmed by directory David Fincher, and it first was aired in April 1989. Two versions of the video were filmed, each with a different ending to the story told. In one version the woman leaving on a plane is leaving a rich lover behind, while in the other, the woman is going to the airport to say goodbye to her daughter.

The song peaked at #27 on the UK Singles chart.

U2 have performed “She’s a Mystery to Me” in concert. The first performance of the song was at the December 30, 1989 concert in Dublin on the LoveTown tour. It was played one other time on that tour. During Zoo TV, and PopMart it was played one time on each tour. The band have also played it in full at promotional appearances in 2000 and in 2004. The performance at Empire Fulton Ferry State Park in Brooklyn NY on November 22, 2004 was released as a b-side to “All Because of You”. That performance is the first released performance of U2 performing the song. U2 have never released their own studio version of the song but it is known that one was recorded in Sun Studios in 1987 when other songs from “Rattle and Hum” were recorded.

Liner Notes

She’s a Mystery to Me: Written by David Evans (The Edge) and Paul Hewson (Bono). Produced by Bono. Engineered and mixed by Don Smith. Roy Orbison: Guitar, vocals. Bono – Guitars. Howie Epstein: Bass. Benmont Tench: Piano and cheap strings. Jim Keltner: Drums. Arranged by Benmont Tench.

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