Composing an Ode to Orbison

 Greetings, dear readers! It’s been a while since I’ve sat down behind the keyboard and lifted my fingers to compose a few lines. I sincerely apologize for my absence here in the SAMF Newsletter. I consider it a privilege to borrow a few minutes of your time to share a few thoughts now and then, and I never want you to feel that I’ve taken that for granted.

Of course, it helps when I have a few thoughts worth sharing. It’s pretty fundamental to the whole endeavor. And, with my thoughts being elsewhere, well, you get my drift.

In any case, I’m back! And ready to lay it on you.

Now, there are a couple of things I’d like to make clear right off the bat. I know things have changed a lot since my last column a few months ago. I like to keep up with cutting edge stuff, you see.

I know that back then, writers would still sit down and work to compose their thoughts into coherent sentences. Some would try to sprinkle in some wit or gravitas depending on what was called for by choosing their words carefully with some degree of precision.

Once upon a time, there were even professional writers. Let me think of an analogy that you, my fellow Buffalonians, might understand. You know when you go to a bowling alley and after you’ve rolled, that machine comes down, picks up any remaining pins, and then resets all 10 pins for the next bowler? The machine is called a pinsetter.

The pinsetter machine replaced the youngsters who used to crouch at the end of the alley, dodging flying pins and bowling balls in order to reset the pins. Those youngsters were called “pin boys” and they were the equivalent of the “professional writer” in my analogy.

The pinsetter machine is, of course, ChatGPT in my analogy.

I’m still getting the hang of using it and I will turn the rest of this narrative over to ChatGPT as soon as I give you some important info—because sometimes artificial intelligence has a tendency to gloss over important details.

On Friday, April 26 at 9pm there’s going to be this really fun tribute to one of the most unique artists in the history of American music, Roy Orbison. The musicians featured include Stephen Macdonald—whose vocal range has allowed him to perform in everything from classic operas to handling the lead vocals for the classic rock band Cock Robin. Macdonald conquers Orbison’s soaring melodies with ease.

There will also be four amazing backup singers that most of you will recognize, including Dee Adams, Michele Ruffino, Maria Sebastian, and John F. Brady.

You’ll also hear in-demand percussionist Ryan Campbell on drums, along with Steam Donkeys/Band Named Sue lead guitarist Dave Kimball adding James Burton licks.

On keyboards and harmonica, Bruce Decker fills out all kinds of orchestral elements to the sweeping ballads. Bassist Patrick Jackson has been leading rehearsals and interpreting the original transcription of the famous Roy Orbison: A Black and White Night performance.

I’ll be playing rhythm guitar and wearing a cool jacket.

As you can see on the poster, the event is taking place at Nietzsche’s—a historic live venue in Allentown that is undergoing a rebirth under new ownership. For example, you can now pay for everything with a credit card in addition to cash and there’s also an ATM in the old phone booth.

Ok, without further ado, I’d like to turn things over to ChatGPT, who offered the following reply in three seconds when I typed “Ode to Orbison” in the message box:

Roy Orbison, the maestro of melancholy melodies,

His voice, a symphony of soulful reveries.

With eyes hidden behind dark shades,

He sang tales of love, longing, and escapades.


From “Only the Lonely” to “Oh, Pretty Woman” so bright,

His songs painted the emotions in hues of black and white.

Each note a whisper from the depths of his heart,

His music, a timeless masterpiece, and eternal art.


In his ballads, we found solace and pain,

In his voice, a world where emotions reign.

Though he left us, his legacy forever prevails,

In the echoes of his tunes, his spirit still sails.


So here’s a tribute to Roy Orbison, the legend untamed,

Whose melodies in our memories forever remained.

May his songs continue to inspire and ignite,

In the hearts of music lovers, day and night.

So there’s a little poetry for you. ChatGPT also provided me with the following response when I typed the keywords “Roy Orbison Tribute” into the website on my phone:

That sounds like a fantastic idea! Roy Orbison was an incredibly talented artist known for his powerful voice and timeless hits like “Oh, Pretty Woman” and “Crying.” A tribute concert or event celebrating his music would be a great way to honor his legacy and introduce his music to new generations. Do you have any specific plans in mind for the tribute?

 I was glad that ChatGPT agreed that we were on to something. I typed the same “Roy Orbison Tribute” search terms into the website while on my laptop and got a different reply, complete with suggestions…

A tribute to Roy Orbison would be a celebration of one of the most iconic voices in the history of popular music. Roy Orbison was known for his distinctive, operatic voice and timeless songs that often-explored themes of heartache and longing. Here’s how you might organize a tribute event:

  • Venue Selection: Choose a venue that suits the atmosphere of Orbison’s music. It could be a theater, concert hall, or even a more intimate setting like a club or lounge.
  • (CHECK—Nietzsche’s is like a club)
  • Live Music Performance: The heart of the tribute would be live performances of Roy Orbison’s songs. You could hire a tribute band or invite local musicians to perform his hits. Make sure the performers capture Orbison’s unique vocal style and musical arrangements.
  • (CHECK—local musicians will be capturing Orbison’s unique vocal style and musical arrangements)

So it looks like ChatGPT gets what we’re trying to do with this whole shebang. It goes on to suggest one element I hadn’t thought of until now, so I’ll throw it out there…

Costumes and Atmosphere: Encourage attendees to dress in attire reminiscent   of Orbison’s era, adding to the nostalgic atmosphere of the event. You could also decorate the venue with retro-themed decor to transport guests back in time.

I guess we’ll see. Come as you are or come dressed to the nines. Nietzsche’s is always   sporting retro-themed decor, so that part is taken care of already. It’s bound to be a night you’ll remember, and I look forward to seeing you there!

By Buck Quigley

Angela Hastings

Author Angela Hastings

More posts by Angela Hastings

Leave a Reply