Welcome to another Music Friday.  Today I am jumping off a post I did a couple weeks ago featuring The Seekers, who had a hit song written by Tom Springfield, the brother of today’s featured artist  Dusty Springfield.  Who on earth is Dusty Springfield? you ask, unless you are old like me.  Well, since you’ve asked, Dusty Springfield was an English pop singer and Blue Eyed Soul artist from the late 1950’s until the 1990’s, though most of her success came in the mid to late 1960’s.  Dusty Springfield was her stage name.  Her real name was Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien and she was born in London in 1939 to an English father and an Irish mother.  I seem to have a thing for Irish girls.  The family enjoyed music, so the children were encouraged to partake.  Mary began singing professionally in 1958 (age 19).  The “Springfield” alias originated when she and her brother formed a folk group in 1964.  Apparently they rehearsed outdoors – in a field – and so they thought an appropriate name for the group would be The Springfields.  Each member adopted a nickname and since Mary was reportedly somewhat of a tomboy known for playing football with the boys, “Dusty” seemed like a fitting moniker.  In retropsect it is also a neatly fitting description of her vocal style.

As a fan of American pop music, she was responsible for introducing some lesser know American MoTown artists to an English audience as the host of an English TV program called “Ready, Steady, Go!” in the early 1960’s.  The Springfields enjoyed some success, but nevertheless disbanded in late 1963.  Shortly thereafter, Dusty Springfield released her first solo single, “I Only Wanna Be With You”.  The song, released in 1963, charted at #4 in Great Britain and made the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S., peaking at #12 in 1964.  This is the song that introduced her to America.

Here are three performances from British television in no particular order.  Note that these are sung live, not lip-synced as later became common for televised  pop music performances in the 60’s.

From 1968, “Son of a Preacher Man”

Next:  “All I See Is You”

OK, I saved the best for last.  This next song charted in the U.S. in 1966.  Springfield called it “good old schmalz”, but one of the composers of the song, Simon Napier-Bell, felt that Dusty’s rendition took it to another level:

“There, standing on the staircase at Philips studio, singing into the stairwell, Dusty gave her greatest ever performance – perfection from first breath to last, as great as anything by Aretha Franklin or Sinatra or Pavarotti. Great singers can take mundane lyrics and fill them with their own meaning. This can help a listener’s own ill-defined feelings come clearly into focus. Vicki [Wickham] and I had thought our lyric was about avoiding emotional commitment. Dusty stood it on its head and made it a passionate lament of loneliness and love.” – Simon Napier-Bell

A song that was voted among the All Time Top 100 Songs by BBC Radio 2 listeners in 1999: “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me”


She lived an interesting life – too many things to write about and not enough time or space here.  Follow this Wikipedia link if you’d like the rest of the story.  Just two final notes:  She was prone to odd behavior such as food fights and breaking crockery which was described by others as “having a wicked sense of humor”.  She never had a heterosexual relationship.  Though she said her prime ambition was to love a man, she also said  “they frighten me”.  She died of breast cancer in England in 1999.