Widely considered one of the greatest British singers of all time, Dusty Springfield rose to fame in the 1960s to become the Queen of Blue-Eyed Soul, a cultural and style icon as famous for her peroxide beehive and panda eyes as she was for her thrilling vocals. Her star diminished in the ’70s, only for her to enjoy a late-career comeback in the mid-’80s after hooking up with the Pet Shop Boys. When she died in 1999 at the tragically young age of just 59, she left behind a huge and varied body of work that, even today, continues to draw millions of new fans every year. Here’s our pick of the 10 best Dusty Springfield songs of all time.
10. Goin’ Back
As independent.co.uk says, Gerry Goffin and Carole King’s timeless lament for lost childhood innocence has been covered many times, but Dusty’s version has never been bettered, proving that when she sang a song, she made it her own. Released in July 1966, it reached number 10 in the UK Singles Chart.
Spooky was originally recorded as an instrumental by saxophonist Mike Sharpe and has been recorded by multiple artists since, including Andy Williams, David Cassidy, and Imogen Heap. But no matter how many new versions get released, there’s no trumping Dusty’s classic rendition from 1970.
8. Wishin’ and Hopin’
Wishin’ and Hopin’ was written by Hal David and Burt Bacharach and first recorded by Dionne Warwick in 1962. Two years later, Dusty recorded her own version. Although she was initially reluctant to release it as a single, Bacharach convived her it had the makings of a hit. He was right. Described by Cashbox as “a tantalizing, cha-cha beat-ballad affair that Dusty waxes in money-in-the-bank-for-all-concerned fashion” with a “superb ork-choral arrangement,” the song hit number 4 on the Cashbox and Easy Listening charts and number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100.
7. Some of Your Lovin’
Dusty recorded countless Gerry Goffin/Carole King songs, but Some of Your Lovin’ might well be one of the most special, with Dusty herself citing it as one of her favorite songs. Her vocals were always on point, but here, their whispy, vulnerable quality elevates the song to new heights. Released as a single alongside I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself in 1966, it charted at number 8 on the UK Singles Chart.
6. I Only Want to Be With You
After beginning her career alongside her brother in the folk trio the Springfields, Dusty broke away at the end of 1963 to take the first steps towards solo success. By the time her record label finally found I Only Want to Be With You, she’d already recorded nine solo tracks, none of which were deemed the right song to launch her onto the world stage. I Only Want to Be With You proved exactly the right choice: released in November 1963, it became an international hit, taking Dusty to number 4 in the UK, number 6 in Australia, number 6 in Canada, and number 12 in the US, making her only the second British Invasion act after the Beatles to score a top 40 hit in the US.
5. What Have I Done to Deserve This?
By the 1980s, Dusty was in professional and personal freefall. She hadn’t had a top 40 hit since 1970, and her most recent albums had failed to make any kind of impact. But Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys managed to convince the duo’s record label that she was the perfect fit to join them on What Have I Done to Deserve This? The result was a watershed moment for Dusty, a number 2 hit on both sides of the Atlantic, and one of the greatest synth-pop songs of all time. Dusty was back, and she was just as thrilling as ever.
4. I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself
Described by The Telegraph as a “vibrant distillation of everyday heartbreak and bafflement,” I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself was another Burt Bacharach and Hal David song that Dusty transformed into a breathy, vulnerable heartbreaker in the 1960s. Strangely enough, she was initially reluctant to release it as a single, but her record label managed to sway her, resulting in a top-three hit in the UK and proof that Dionne Warwick (who covered the song two years later), wasn’t the only singer around who could work a Bacharach/David composition.
3. The Look of Love
Burt Bacharach wrote The Look of Love after being Inspired by watching Ursula Andress in an early cut of the 1967 spoof James Bond film “Casino Royale.” It was first recorded as an instrumental by Stan Getz, but Hal David felt it would be better with lyrics and duly added some. Dusty Springfield added the vocals, the song made it onto the film’s soundtrack, and a short time later, Bacharach and David were looking at an Oscar nomination for Best Song (which they lost out on to Talk to the Animals from “Doctor Doolittle”) and Dusty had a new signature song to add to her collection. In 2008, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
2. You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me
In 1965, Pino Donaggio reached the final of the Sanremo Festival with the song, Io che non vivo (senza te). Dusty, who was sitting in the audience, couldn’t understand the lyrics but was moved to tears at the music. A year later, she convinced the producer of Ready Steady Go!, Vicki Wickham, and Simon Napier-Bell, manager of the Yardbirds, to write new lyrics. The day after they finished, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me was recorded and ready to go. Released in March 1966, the song became one of the most successful of Dusty’s career, taking her number one on the UK Singles Chart and number four on the Billboard Hot 100.
1. Son of a Preacher Man
John Hurley and Ronnie Wilkins wrote Son of a Preacher Man with Aretha Franklin in mind, but after Atlantic Records producer and co-owner Jerry Wexler heard it, he suggested it might be a better fit for Dusty. Franklin did eventually get round to recording it in 1969, but by then, Dusty had already put her indelible stamp on it. Brimming with soul and soaked in ice-cool allure, it became one of Dusty’s biggest hits, peaking in the top ten in both the UK and the US – her last top ten hit until the Pet Shop Boys revived her career in the 1980s.