#20 Traveling Wilburys: End of the Line: 1989.
This will be my last Traveling Wilburys song for a little while, at least, we have come to the end of the line. End of the Line is the final song on the debut album Traveling Wilburys Vol 1 released at the end of 1988 and then again in January 1989 as a single. What is important about this is what happened between late November 1988 and January 1989.
On December 6th 1988 Roy Orbison, The Big O, died of a heart attack at the age of 52. Roy Orbison’s life had its share of heartache and tragedy. Orbison’s first wife, Claudette, had died in a motorcycle crash in June of 1966, his home had burnt to the ground in 1968 and Orbison’s two sons, Roy DeWayne (11) and Anthony King (6) were killed in the fire.
Elvis Presley described Orbison as “the greatest singer in the world” with “the most perfect voice” but his great big heart which pushed that voice out, just stopped.
The lyrics of End of the Line muse on the fact that we are all going to the end of the line and that is okay, we just need to do the best we can with what we have. We all have circumstances that put boundaries on our lives and learning to live graciously within those boundaries, accepting our limitations and being thankful to be alive are the attitudes which can make us “satisfied”.
In the video clip Orbison is absent. His voice is in the song but physically he has passed from this world. He is represented by an empty rocking chair which holds his Gibson/Gretsch guitar and then the camera pans to a photograph of Orbison. George Harrison noted that although Orbison was absent in body he was still there in spirit and this needed to be recognized.
Since this time, George Harrison and Tom Petty have also come to the end of their line and it is a poignant reminder that in due course we all will come to the end of the line.