Dusty at 75

photoOn a wander through Henley-on-Thames at the weekend, we visited the churchyard (I spend a lot of time in graveyards, more for the ambience than for my research on graveyard poetry!) and came across the grave of Dusty Springfield, who died in 1999. Coincidentally, today (16th April) would have been her 75th birthday, so I thought I’d post a picture of her grave, which apparently always has flowers on it, though it is quite unostentatious.

I rarely blog about music, though in fact I love music, but I don’t feel I have anything sensible to say about it. However, Dusty was one of my first musical loves: my father had an old Dusty LP, which began with ‘I only want to be with you’. The intro skipped a little on a scratch, and I listened to that record so many times that I can’t hear it without that glitch. One of the first CDs I bought was a Dusty compilation, and it’s probably one of the CDs I’ve listened to most, over the years. I like to sing, and I sing those songs all the time and am word-perfect. More than that, when I was in my teens and went through a bit of a 1960s phase (I started early with the vintage clothes) it was old pictures of Dusty that got me started on eyeliner and back-coDustymbed hair.

Her music is almost always sad; even when it has an upbeat rhythm (such as ‘In the Middle of Nowhere’, it’s still not a cheerful subject. I gather she didn’t always have  a happy life, and you can hear that in her music. But her gentle, smoky voice catches any tune and makes it irresistible. Around 1990, I could find nothing I liked so much as this, and the songs on that first CD I bought still sound to me like a soundtrack of different events of my life. Though some of the covers she did later in her career grate a little with me, the early songs influenced by the blues, Memphis and soul singers are remarkable and moving.

If you haven’t heard it, this is my favourite of her songs: Son of a Preacher Man. Fabulous Sixties styling, too (though this isn’t the best recording of it).

NB For the record, when I was sixteen (in 1992 or 93) I made a list in my diary of my favourite CDs. They included: Bon Jovi, Tchaikovsky, Verdi, Nirvana, Judy Garland, Dusty Springfield, Elgar, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Telemann and Tori Amos.


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