About The Song

The song was written for Orbison’s first wife, Claudette Frady. One day, she left for the store — by “walking down the street” — and by the time she returned, Orbison had written what would become his most enduring hit.

Frady died in a motorcycle accident in 1966, two years after the song hit No. 1 on the charts.

Orbison’s second wife, Barbara Orbison, says the song was “like Bruce Springsteen said: It’s the best girl-watching rock ‘n’ roll song ever.”

Independent producer Ben Manilla spoke with Barbara Orbison and Bill Dees, the co-writer of “Oh, Pretty Woman,” to tell the story behind of Roy Orbison’s most enduring hit.

“He turned to me with the guitar lick, and he said, ‘I feel like I need to say something while they’re playing [that guitar lick],'” Dees says. “I said, ‘Well, you’re always saying [the word] ‘mercy,’ why don’t you say mercy?’ You know, I said, ‘Every time you see a pretty girl you say mercy.'”

This track was prominently featured in the 1990 film “Pretty Woman” with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere.
On May 14, 2008, The Library of Congress selected “Pretty Woman” for preservation in the National Recording Registry.

Video

Lyrics

Pretty woman, walkin’ down the street
Pretty woman the kind I like to meet
Pretty woman I don’t believe you, you’re not the truth
No one could look as good as you, mercy
Pretty woman won’t you pardon me
Pretty woman I couldn’t help but see
Pretty woman that you look lovely as can be
Are you lonely just like me
Pretty woman stop awhile
Pretty woman talk awhile
Pretty woman give your smile to me
Pretty woman yeah, yeah, yeah
Pretty woman look my way
Pretty woman say you’ll stay with me
‘Cause I need you, I’ll treat you right
Come with me baby, be mine tonight
Pretty woman don’t walk on by
Pretty woman don’t make me cry
Pretty woman don’t walk away, hey, OK
If that’s the way it must be, OK
I guess I’ll go on home, it’s late
There’ll be tomorrow night, but wait
What do I see?
Is she walkin’ back to me?
Yeah, she’s walkin’ back to me
Oh, oh, pretty woman.