i will never forget the first time i heard the mystical voice of miss dusty springfield. i was about thirteen and utterly obsessed with the newman ballad, “i think it’s going to rain today”. the lyrics spoke to me in a way i had never experienced before, and i was searching for a version in which the vocals matched up. this was when i discovered dusty. her cover of this song is one of the most intimate, emotional takes on another artist’s words that i have ever heard, and only dusty can achieve this level of mastery.
dusty had one of the most unique, striking voices i have ever heard. she was smoky and soulful, but tenderness and truth rolled from her lips like honey. each perfect note is absolutely mesmerizing, and when her sound cuts through the air, one can’t help but stop and listen. dusty drew inspiration from the beauties of her time, donning a bleached beehive and heavy makeup that accentuated her naturally gorgeous features. her elegance and flair made for a truly revolutionary woman and artist.
dusty had an incredibly fascinating personal life. to me, she is easily one of the most interesting, complex musicians of all time. naturally, she was far from perfect. dusty suffered from extreme mental illness and addiction, but ultimately, she will forever be known for the music she graced us with. her story is quite tragic in many ways, dealing with more heartbreak than most. however, her legacy continues to inspire many artists. though she isn’t particularly well-known in the u.s. today, she is known as one of the most influential female artists in british history, highly acclaimed by many. her history of advocacy and activism for animal and human rights is a fascinating contrast to her mysterious nature.
i highly recommend giving her music a listen, particularly if you are a fan of soulful music from the 60s. a few of my favorites are “i think it’s going to rain today” (obviously), “you don’t have to say you love me”, and “son of a preacher man”. below, i included the link to some articles that taught me more about this complex, troubled, talented woman, and i highly encourage you to check them out! learning about the life, love, and legacy of dusty springfield has been fascinating, and i will forever be inspired by her artistry.
to close, i’d like to include a beautiful quote about dusty’s magic as a performer. simon napier-bell told the observer, “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.”