It's Over

Roy Orbison

Song Review by Richie Unterberger

For about four years starting with 1960's "Only the Lonely," fans that bothered to be self-conscious enough about it must have wondered whether and how Roy Orbison could manage to possibly keep outdoing himself in the pop/rock melodrama sweepstakes. He usually managed to do so, with 1964's Top Ten hit "It's Over" being arguably his last true classic in that style, as well as perhaps the most over-the-top in its statement of customary Orbison themes: heartbreak and loss that built until the agony was unbearable. Thematically and structurally, "It's Over" bears some similarity to a prior Orbison hit, "Running Scared," though the melody is entirely different. The similarities are that, like "Running Scared," "It's Over" builds from a whisper to a scream, and also has a bolero-like beat in the verses. "It's Over" is more downbeat than "Running Scared," though, and in fact more downbeat than most romantic pop songs, quite a feat given how many millions of tunes compete for that slot. There's nothing but Roy, a guitar, and his gentle voice at the very beginning, but the orchestral crush of despair and angelic backup choir vocals pour on over the course of the song. The tone gets more despondent in the bridge, where the beats slow dramatically and Orbison operatically poses the question "what will you do?" when she tells you it's through. He doesn't answer the question in the song, and you fear to ask for the answer, given that his despair is so evident that the only obvious response is that he'll commit suicide. But the torture isn't over yet; after an explosive chorus, the orchestration largely drops out at the beginning of a return to another verse. The imagery here gets especially black for a pop song, Orbison warning that you won't see rainbows anymore, the crescendo of instruments and voices building yet again for another particularly belting chorus. The instruments come to a dead stop after one of Orbison's "it's over" phrases. But it's not over; he goes to a yet higher key and sings it again to really rub it in, after which the orchestra adds a couple of downbeat, muted bars, like a man who has come to the end of his rope.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The All-Time Greatest Hits of Roy Orbison, Vols. 1-2 1976 Monument Records 2:50
The All-Time Greatest Hits of Roy Orbison, Vol. 1 1978 Monument Records 2:48
Golden Days 1981 Sony BMG
In Dreams: The Greatest Hits 1987 Eagle Records 2:52
Classic Rock: 1964 - The Beat Goes On 1988
Various Artists
For the Lonely: 18 Greatest Hits 1988 Rhino 2:49
The Legendary Roy Orbison [Long Box] 1988 Monument Records 2:46
Pretty Woman: The Best of Roy Orbison [Columbia] 1989 Columbia
The Rock 'N' Roll Era: Roy Orbison 1960-1965 1991 2:48
Love Songs [Sound Solutions] 1992 Virgin 2:53
Heart of Roy Orbison 1993 GSC
Love Hurts [Castle] 1994
Various Artists
Warner Bros.
Super Hits 1995 Columbia / Epic 2:49
Gold Collection 1996 TriStar Music 2:46
The All Time Greatest Hits of Roy Orbison [DCC] 1997 Monument Records 2:49
Limited Edition Box Set 1998 Orbison Records 3:04
Oh Pretty Woman: The Greatest Hits 1998 Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:46
16 Biggest Hits 1999 Monument / Legacy 2:48
After the Love Has Gone 1999
Various Artists
Crimson Productions
Anthology 1999 Orbison Records 2:52
The Great Roy Orbison, Vol. 1: Original Hits 2000 Platinum Disc 2:48
Roy, Gene & Dion 2000 WEA International 2:49
20 Golden Hits 2000 Teevee Records 2:48
The Great Roy Orbison: Original Hits 2000 Platinum Disc 2:48
Gold 2001 Disky 2:53
The Big O: The Original Singles Collection 2001 Monument Records 2:48
Orbison 2001 Bear Family Records 2:53
The Legends Collection: The Roy Orbison Collection 2001 Legends Collection 3:02
Roy Orbison Collection, Vol. 1 2001 Dressed To Kill 3:02
Monumental Hits [Collectables] 2002 Collectables 2:48
50 All Time Greatest Hits 2002 Collectables 2:48
Big Hits from the Big "O" 2002 Balboa Recording Corporation 2:53
The Best of Roy Orbison [EMI] 2003 CEMA Special Markets / EMI-Capitol Special Markets 2:53
Oh Pretty Woman/I Like Love 2003 Dynamic 2:35
Most Famous Hits: The Album [CD 2] 2003 Surpr!se 3:02
Most Famous Hits: The Album 2004 Surpr!se 3:02
Sweets for Sweden: The Very Best of Roy Orbison 2004 Virgin
Platinum Collection 2004 Virgin 2:54
Definitive Collection [Single Disc] 2004 Sony Music Entertainment 2:50
Greatest Hits [Video] 2004 Eagle Vision 3:48
Hits! Hits! Hits! 2004 Orbison Records 2:51
Love Hurts [Crimson] 2005
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 2:51
The Very Best of Roy Orbison [Sony/BMG Australia] 2006 Virgin 3:13
Purely Roy Orbison 2008 Impact 2:52
The Monument Singles: A-Sides (1960-1964) 2011 Legacy / Monument Records / Orbison Records / Sony Music / Sony Music Distribution 2:47
The Ultimate Collection [Legacy] 2016 Legacy / Sony Music 2:48
Definitive Collection [2 Disc] Phantom