It’s been almost a full sixty years since Dusty Springfield released her debut, A Girl Called Dusty. It’s a record that is as exceptional and important now as it was back then, and continues to be one of my favorite records of all time. Dusty’s mezzo soprano vocals mixed with such lovely instrumental touches, all held together by such liveliness in the delivery of it makes this one unforgettable. At the time in 1964, it was only released in the UK and predominantly features cover songs. But, at the time in 1964, that wasn’t just a common thing for pop/rock artists to do; it was actually highly encouraged. Although that aspect may not be very conducive to our modern world, the project is definitely relatable to the newest generation in so many ways. A Girl Called Dusty is an album that has stood the test of time and won. With so many details of this found in modern music while also being true to its own era, it’s solidified it’s presence in all of music history and made it a record worth remembering.
“You Don’t Own Me”
A Lesley Gore original, Dusty’s take on the song isn’t much different when it comes to overall sound and vocal melodies. But with her unique vocal tone, Dusty makes the feminist inspired lyrics a lot more believable and lively. Lines such as “Don’t tell me what to do / Don’t tell me what to say / And please when I go out with you / Don’t put me on display” take on a completely different feel while the easy going drumming and violins create the most perfect, harmonious background. Even the bridge portion of the song is wonderfully vintage sounding, making this tune especially a great curated pop song from the times without sounding like exactly everything else out there.
Yes, this is indeed the lullaby that we have all come to know and love. This version of the song is absolutely delightful, mostly because it doesn’t even sound like a lullaby, rather a more grown up version about getting past an old relationship. Dusty sings that this man will buy her a diamond ring if the mocking bird don’t sing, but if the ring don’t shine, “He’s surely gonna break this heart of mine”. She’s also asking him to give her piece of mind but “If that piece of mind won’t stay / I’m gonna find myself a better way”. Just like with the previous one, I particularly like the idea that you don’t need other people to make you happy or make you feel worthy. The overall calm nature of the track also alludes to her confidence about that, clearly never needing anyone else’s validation. Besides the empowering message of the short song, one other standout characteristic is the tunes ability to sound like a modern R&B song with the way the background vocals and adlibs are woven throughout.
“Anyone Who Had A Heart”
The original version of this song was recorded by Dionne Warwick in 1963 and Dusty’s rendition is dazzling. It’s so powerful and energetic, emotional sounding and wonderfully melodic. Everything about this version is perfect and so enjoyable. One thing that I noticed was the guitar in the background that sounds like modern music and is so subtle you might miss it. In addition, the gorgeous bridge portion, which mimics the verse and chorus melodies, is so rough sounding but being composed of strings, it still sounds romantic and pretty. The overall execution of this one is probably my favorite out of all of these tracks.