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Saturday, November 8, 2008

Believe me, believe me...

Other worthies, including the King himself, have covered it, and many have covered it well, but why did they bother? No one will ever own "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me" but the woman who gave it to us a full 42 years ago, the late, very great Dusty Springfield. Believe it or not, it was her only #1 single in her native Britain! (It only went as high as #4 in the States.) Her only #1? You read me right, and I share your sense of outrage. What about "I Only Want To Be With You"? "Wishin' and Hopin'"? "The Look of Love"? "SON OF A PREACHER MAN"? What was the record-buying public thinking at the time? It boggles the mind.

Before going any further, I must insist you watch her perform the song, in all its over-orchestrated glory, live on the BBC. Yes, she looks like she's made up for Kabuki, and at times semaphoring the lyrics, but that was part of her very considerable charm. Go right away to www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7n0HJEMqjA . Everything else can wait.

Welcome back. Have you collected yourself? Yeah, they don't perform that like that anymore. (Eat you heart out, Duffy!) But what's my point? What does Dusty have to do with Tuscany? Nothing, really. But there is an Italian connection. Dusty recorded an English version of an Italian song, "Io che non vivo (senza te)," by the immortal (here) Pino Donaggio, which she first heard and fell in love with at the Sanremo Festival in 1965. (You can watch that very performance, which was televised live, at www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AOqOZwcwt0 - this one's optional.).

That's not so surprising in and of itself. It sounds like I imagine many Italian pop song of the period sounded. What is surprising is that it appears to represent a high water mark for Italian pop. I mean, the schlock I have to endure here at the Internet Train, you wouldn't believe! It's a wonder sometimes that I can put two sentences together, given the distraction of this drivel. It's like Zucherro's "Senz' una donna" is on a loop. Thank God it's interspersed with more palatable stuff. The other day was pretty wonderful: KLF featuring Tammy Wynette, "Justified and Ancient;" Terence Trent D'Arby's "Wishing Well;" and Charles and Eddie's "Would I Lie To You?", in a row! You don't easily forget days like that.

3 comments:

nixatron said...

Oh, you haven't lived until you've heard the Spiderman theme in Spanish on a Mexican radio station in a Mexicali hole-in-the-wall cafe while you're enoying pork ribs in green chile.

+Savas of Troas said...

My mouth waters and my eyes tear up at the thought!

Speaking of mouths, be sure to check my flickr page today, John. Think "golden."

Jim said...

#35? Your Grace, I confess I can't call myself a great Dusty Springfield fan, but after watching her video when you posted this entry, I did find myself making a pretty fast trip to the iTunes store. Then today, Chris starts reading me the Rolling Stone Top 100 Vocalists (ever) list, and I'm convinced that there are more than a few people higher in the list than Dusty's #35 who just don't belong there. Steve Winwood? Hank Williams? Good singers but great? Robert Plant? (I may be in the minority, not being a big Zep fan for starters, and my son certainly disagrees with me, but with the exception of Stairway I think of him more as a screamer than a vocalist). After you return, I'd love your perspective on the list.