This week’s Free Ride* reflects on the music of rock and roll Hall of Famer Dusty Springfield, who would have turned 72 today. The British pop singer with the soulful voice had a four decade career, starting in the 1950s, and is most widely known for the popular r & b hit Son of a Preacher Man. What is less widely known is that while she was at the peak of her career in the late 60s, she talked Atlantic Records into signing a newly formed group that included her bass player, John Paul Jones. So she earns extra kudos in my book for giving Led Zeppelin their big break.
Dusty Springfield was the most popular female singer in the mid 1960s, and for the Free Ride theme, we turn to her treatment of a song by the most prolific female songwriter of the 60s, Carole King. Goin’ Back has been covered by a wide variety of artists – including the likes of the Byrds, the Pretenders, Phil Collins, Freddie Mercury and Diana Ross, but Carole King herself thought that Dusty Springfield’s was the definitive cover. The song is a nostalgic longing for the lost innocence of youth – a time as she says when I was young enough to know the truth.
It’s funny how childhood is so often pictured in terms of such innocence and freedom, symbolized by skipping rope and watching sailboats glide. Without going into a debate about the “true reality,” it’s doubtful that there has ever been a time in history when childhood was that free and easy. Growing up is more confusing and painful and frightening than most of us would want to admit. But there is something about the yearning for such a time that is real, the longing for life experience minus the adult pressures and stresses. We would all wish for the capacity to trust the world implicitly and completely, to be free to skip our ropes and watch the sailboats glide without a worry in the world. Listening to Dusty Springfield sing this wish certainly captures me and fills at least 3 minutes and 37 seconds of my adult day with the fantastic notion that there is such a place to which we could return.
*Free Ride is a Saturday blog from Stan Dotson that takes a different artist or song each week and muses on lyrics of freedom. You can click on the live links in the post to hear the music referenced in the blog. If you have a favorite “freedom” song (it could be any song that has the word free or freedom in it), feel free to suggest it in the comment box below. As always, your feedback and comments are welcome.