Tag Archives: dusty springfield

1001 Songs – 1967: Part One

List Item:  Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die

1967. For many appreciators of rock music this was a banner year. It saw the release of Sgt. Pepper, The Velvet Underground & Nico, two Jimi Hendrix albums and Forever Changes to name but a few.

Psychadelic rock was reaching the top of its game and I think this will end up being shown in the three song posts where I go through the 30 songs on the 1001 list that came out in 1967.

The End – The Doors

We start the year with one of the longer songs on the entire list, as well as being a song from I covered not too long ago.

When I looked at The Doors’ eponymous album the 12 minute closing track ‘The End’ didn’t exactly feature on my radar. Instead I preferred tracks like ‘End of the Night’ and ‘Break On Through’.

As a piece of work it’s impressive that this is meant to be one continuous take. However, I know the edited version used in Apocalypse Now and the context that cast it in probably stopped this song from connecting with me. It feels just so pleased with itself and that just turned me off.

Electricity – Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band

I maintain that this is one of the best names ever for a band. They are epitome of what happens when you take the conceit of psychedelic rock that bit too far and then add a hit of peyote.

It’s definitely more entertaining than the 12 minutes of The Doors I just listened too. Even more so when you read the story of when Captain Beefheart himself stopped a performance of the song because he saw a girl in the crowd turn into a goldfish.

Also, I need to talk about the use of a theremin. It’s hilarious and I don’t think it was meant to be.

Corcovado – Frank Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim

Meanwhile down the Brazilian way and in the smoke-filled nightclubs we still had the bossa nova music playing. In 1967 Frank Sinatra released a Grammy Award-nominated album with Antônio Carlos Jobim, one of those at the forefront of bossa nova, and this is one of the songs that came from such a partnership.

Sinatra’s smooth voice works perfectly with the smooth beats of bossa nova. We are so used to him delivering songs with a big band, but honestly this is one of the best recordings I have heard from him. It’s a nice palate-cleanser between all this psychedelic rock.

Heroin – The Velvet Underground

This is the first of two songs from The Velvet Underground & Nico. Whilst this is not one of my favourite two songs, it certainly one of the most notable.

Firstly, we have the title of the song: heroin. No album had featured a song with such a blatant title. You have the lyrical content of the song which neither condemns nor condones the use of heroin. It just talks about the use of heroin and the dependency.

The big thing of interest is the structure. The song is intended to mimic the initial rush (the increased tempo) which is then broken by the comedown (the screeching viola). It’s just a really clever song that’s also very interesting to listen to.

Chelsea Girls – Nico

Oh the flute. That infernal flute. Poor Nico was right about the flute and the strings. She wanted more guitar and some drums, which would have totally helped this song.

Okay so Nico doesn’t have a voice that you can get into straight away. It works with the instruments you hear on ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’, just not with this wistfully awful production.

Poor poor Nico.

For What It’s Worth – Buffalo Springfield

The moment that the chorus started with “Stop, hey, what’s that sound?” I knew that I knew this song. I don’t know where from, probably from The Muppet Show if I know my own frames of reference.

A song like this gives an interesting insight into what the world was like in 1967. Just as you listen to it off the cuff you quickly realise this is a protest song.

What was it protesting? A curfew that was put in place on the Sunset Strip that young people felt was specifically targeting them. This lead to rioting by the young people of Hollywood and so this song was born.

The Look of Love – Dusty Springfield

The second of three Dusty Springfield songs on this list, and one of the select few that were nominated for an Academy Award.

This song started out as an instrumental piece for the James Bond film Casino Royale (the spoof 1967 version, not the serious 2006 version) with lyrics being added in later.

Whilst the smooth bossa nova beats would have worked as intended in the film, the addition of lyrics sung by the wonderful Dusty Springfield just elevates this song and, as is the tradition of James Bond, makes it sexy.

I’d Rather Go Blind – Etta James

It feels like it has been a long time since we last had a soul song and we get two in a row. I know that with it being a song about a woman who would rather go blind than see her lover leave her.

It’s a sad premise, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t find this delivery as effecting as I could have. Oh well.

(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher & Higher – Jackie Wilson

This is one of those songs everyone probably knows from an advert on the TV or because it’s regularly used as a piece of background music in tv programmes and films set in the late 1960s.

It’s a song that was originally intended to be a ballad, but the producer thought it would better as a more upbeat song. He wasn’t wrong. It just worked this way because it is a happy song and that would have been lost if it had been crooned.

Strawberry Fields Forever – The Beatles

This will have to rank as one of the more unusual singles ever released by the Beatles. It’s a song of nostalgia about the fields John Lennon used to play in as a child and it is weird.

It’s hard to put a finger on this song. At all. It’s just this weird melange of tempo, instrumentation and John Lennon murmuring ‘cranberry sauce’ in the background.

I can see why reviewers at the time might have been slightly perplexed by this song. I cannot, however, see how this song was able to contribute towards the downward spiral of Brian Wilson.

I still prefer ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and I don’t think I am alone there.

Progress: 228/1021

1001 Songs – 1964

1964 may be the last year for a while that I attempt in one sitting. At 15 songs it’s stretching it a bit, but let’s do this!

List Item:  Listen to the 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die

Leader of the Pack – The Shangri-Las

We start out with a tragedy song. These were so in vogue at the time. I guess it was something to do with the rise of the teenager and the need to rebel. You could see them as either warnings or aspirations depending on your age.

‘Leader of the Pack’ is arguably the most famous of these teenage tragedy songs and even reached number 1. The screeching of the tyres at the end just highlight this tragedy element. This is a girl group song in the same way that ‘Sally, Go Round The Roses’ was.

For some reason this song reminds me of Ruby Wax. I don’t know why.

Les copains d’abord – Georges Brassens

Meanwhile in France we are still in the world of chanson. This one is very peppy and yet it is about someone dying on a fishing trip with friends.

What is it with the French chanson music and using a peppy melody to hide a darker message! Granted this is no ‘La Gorille’, as that was moderately upsetting, but this is still someone drowning. It’s like how you have lovely happy music in the French film Partie de la Campagne and it’s actually quite upsetting.

Then again he could be singing about having dysentary and it would still sound lovely. Language *jazz hands*

Samba Malato – Nicomedes Santa Cruz

Another different song here. A samba by Peruvian singer Nicomedes Santa Cruz.

It’s an interesting pick for the 1001 list. This is on here in order to highlight a different kind of music – this being an Afro-Peruvian movement.

The song itself appears to be a song about back home, in this instance areas such as Angola and the wider Congo area. So basically this another instance of happy music hiding a darker message.

Walk On By – Dionne Warwick

This marks the first appearance of Burt Bacharach on the list. By this time he had already written songs like ‘Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa’ and ‘Anyone Who Had A Heart’, but those are probably more well known because of their Dusty Springfield covers.

Dionne Warwick was the perfect voice for the combination of Bacharach and lyricist Hal David. Most of her early songs came from this pairing (and this is back when two albums a year was the norm). Amazing how as a three they were able to churn out a song of this quality.

Don’t Gimme No Lip Child – Dave Berry

Interesting pick as this was actually a B-side (people younger than me will have no idea what this is) to his song ‘The Crying Game’.

It makes the list because of how it influenced punk bands, like the Sex Pistols who used it in rehearsals, who would not be releasing music for about a decade. Talk about reach.

E se domani – Mina

Mina is one of those big singers from the European continent that didn’t make waves in the UK. ‘E se domani’ is one of her biggest selling singles and, despite being a failed attempt to enter Eurovision. Italy won that year anyway so no harm no foul.

It’s a sweet song, but very much a slow Eurovision song. Enjoyable, but not memorable.

The Girl from Ipanema – Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto

One of the most famous songs of all time as well as being one of the most recorded of all time.

Astrud Gilberto, singing the English lyrics, managed to get the gig because she was the only one of them who knew English. It also helped that she was the wife of Joao Gilberto. Still, her rough and relaxed vocals worked perfectly for this archetypal bossa nova track.

Perfectly relaxing for a summer’s day like today… even if this is going up in February.

A Change Is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke

One of those big songs of the American Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. It’s an incredibly stirring track that is ultimately made all the more tragic after his death a year later having been shot by a motel manager.

You listen to this and you can hear exactly where singers like Marvin Gaye got their inspiration from. Especially when you listen something pretty seminal like What’s Going On.

Just… moving.

Dancing in the Street – Martha & The Vandellas

Now for a complete change in tact and yet Marvin Gaye is still a useful reference as he was one of the writers on this song.

Where ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ was specifically written to be part of the movement ‘Dancing In The Street’ found itself associated despite being a regular party song.

It’s one of those songs that just makes you want to get up and dance. Not protest though. I can’t dance when I’m angry.

I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself – Dusty Springfield

Most people will know this song because of the White Stripes cover.

It’s another Bacharach/David song, but this had to go through a few hands before reaching Dionne Warwick. Interestingly this was originally sung by a man and yet this song is remarkably feminine when it comes to the lyrics.

You also have songs like this and the next one being the start of blue-eyed soul aka white people singing rhythym and blues and soul (seen then as black music). When you think about it… it’s a bit of a racist idea for a genre.

You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling – The Righteous Brothers

Now this is possibly the song that caused the term ‘blue eyed soul’ to be coined.

Listen to that production. We are back in the world of Phil Spector and doesn’t that just feel like being wrapped up in a blanket made up of meticulous music. Also, there’s Cher in the background.

You Really Got Me – The Kinks

If ‘Don’t Gimme No Lip Child’ was an influence on punk music then this has got to be the first chapter of the punk rock cookbook.

It’s one of the few pure rock songs that has been encountered so far and has really gotten me to thinking about how many famous songs we are starting to get in this list.

For the first time it feels like rock, as we know it, has arrived and dropped the ‘and roll’ part of its title.

The House of the Rising Sun – The Animals

‘The House of the Rising Sun’ is actually a traditional folk song (I didn’t know that either) that had been sung by many people, including Bob Dylan, for years and years.

It takes a lot to make a song like this feel as if it belongs to you as the cover singer, but this re-arrangement by The Animals found a way to do this.

Every now and then there is a ‘keystone’ song in this list. Something that is so different from what preceeded it and managed to influence music afterwards. ‘You Really Got Me’ was pretty close to this when I think about it.

Because of my Acclaimed Albums list I have been spending a lot of time listening to psychadlelic rock and with this I think I finally found THE song that managed to bring them into prominance. It’s haunting, it’s fantastic and shows you how to arrange a folk song.

Go ‘Way from My window – John Jacob Niles

Well… this probably shouldn’t be one of the closing songs in what has been a bumper year. Then again, singing this at 72 years old and being a massive influence on the American folk revival movement does get you a place here.

Similar to how I can hear some notes of Joni Mitchell’s ‘My Old Man’ in the delivery here.

72 years old and still able to hit the high notes. Wow.

Amsterdam – Jacques Brel

I adore this song. When I saw that I would finally be listening to this as part of the 1001 songs list… well that’s why all 15 have been done in one post rather than being split and I’d get to this whenever.

I love a big song and a big bit of production and this song just will not stop building. It’s a mini epic at 3 minutes plus applause that brings tears to my eyes and goosebumps to my body every single time that I hear it.

It’s the perfect song to finish a year off to. Just magnificent.

Progress: 165/1021

Music Monday: Dusty in Memphis by Dusty Springfield

List item: Listen to the 250 greatest albums
Progress: 29/250DustyInMemphisTitle: Dusty in Memphis
Artist: Dusty Springfield
Year: 1969
Position: #101

If it was not for the re-ranking of the acclaimed albums list Dusty in Memphis would count as the second album that I looked at with the ‘Memphis sound’ (the first being From Elvis in Memphis). However, that album has now dropped off of the list making Dusty’s Memphis output all the more special.

Like many of the great albums there are many stories behind the making of Dusty in Memphis. Somewhat unique amongst  well known female singers back in the 1960s, Dusty Springfield was also a producer (a fact that was not widespread at the time). Therefore when she stepped into the American Sound Studios in Memphis (in an attempt to undergo an image transformation to keep up with the trends) she suddenly found herself without a lot of the control she was used to. This resulted in many heated arguments, accusations of unrealistic perfectionism and the re-recording of most of the tracks in New York after the initially booked studio time.

When you listen to Dusty Springfield’s earlier work (such as her impressive debut A Girl Called Dusty) you realise how much of an amazing talent she was. In fact, she was one of very few internationally successful white solo female singers. She gained notice with songs like ‘I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself’ and  ‘Wishin’ and Hopin’ which were, in early-to-mid 60s pop music. The fact is that Dusty never sounded better than she does rich the rich backings found on Dusty in Memphis (although her duet with the Pet Shop Boys comes mighty close).

The jewel in this album is, undoubtedly, ‘Son of a Preacher Man’. Whether you first heard it on the radio or in Pulp Fiction it is arguably the best song ever recorded with the Memphis sound. The fact that this was initially turned down by Aretha Franklin and then, having heard Dusty’s version, found it’s way onto an Aretha Franklin album only a year later speaks to the power of this recording. Whilst there are many other great songs on here such as ‘Breakfast in Bed’, ‘Just A Little Lovin” and ‘No Easy Way Down’ it is ‘Son of a Preacher Man’ that stands tall above them all.

As such Dusty in Memphis remains a landmark in music, not just because of the album itself but because it also marked the signing of Led Zepplin to their first major record deal on the recommendation of Dusty Springfield herself. Music really is a small world.