It makes complete sense that “Not Alone Anymore” is my favorite song by The Traveling Wilburys, the best supergroup of all time. It’s one of two songs on the band’s debut album, Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1, that credit Jeff Lynne as chief songwriter, and features the golden voice of Roy Orbison front and center.
From the very first note, “Not Alone Anymore” grabs me and doesn’t let go. The song opens briskly with ELO’s signature rain of electronic keys and an elastic bass incline. As soon as Orbison begins crooning, I’m done for, my heart wrapped up in its velvety bliss.
The remaining Wilburys sing dusty “sha la la la’s” between Orbison’s broken-hearted lyrics: “I let you down, I let you go/ I lost you, how was I to know?” It makes me wish that Orbison sang ALL the songs. It makes me wish Lynne wrote all the songs. Of course, George Harrison, Bob Dylan and Tom Petty provide quite proper guitar work and backing vocals, and Jim Keltner’s drumming is an essential inclusion as the base that sets the sway. The Wilburys’ other songs on the album are ace, but there’s no denying that the formula they cooked up for “Not Alone Anymore” is one of the most fluid and potent in their catalog. It’s got a tone all its own; one that they’ve never repeated, which makes it all the more valuable.