Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Remembering Dusty - Eleven Years On

Today marks the 11th anniversary of the death of legendary pop/soul singer Dusty Springfield.

In honor of Dusty’s life and legacy, I share the following 12-minute BBC video documentary – one that features not only great archival footage of Dusty performing some of her most memorable songs, but insightful commentary and interviews with the likes of Lulu, Burt Bacharach, Tom Jones, Martha Reeves, Kiki Dee, and Madeline Bell. All in all, it’s a compelling documentation and celebration of the important and lasting contribution to music by Dusty Springfield, the “First Queen of British Pop.” Enjoy!

As she struggled with cancer in the last years of her life, Dusty Springfield lived in a house close to the village of Harpsden, just outside the picturesque town of Henley-on-Thames. After Dusty’s death on March 2, 1999, her funeral was held at Henley’s Church of St. Mary the Virgin on March 12, 1999. Dusty’s body was later cremated and a portion of her ashes buried in the cemetery of St. Mary’s. The remainder of her ashes were scattered in the sea by her brother Tom at the cliffs of Moher in Ireland.

In the summer of 2005 I visited my older brother and his family, who were living at that time just outside of London. On Sunday, August 21, 2005, members of my family and I drove to Henley-on-Thames and visited Dusty’s grave in the churchyard of St. Mary’s.

Eight years earlier in August 1997, I established Woman of Repute, a website dedicated to Dusty and her music. To read how I first reported on my website the news of Dusty’s death, click here.

For mainstream media coverage of the death of Dusty Springfield, click here.

For various media tributes to Dusty (including from Rolling Stone magazine, People magazine, and Entertainment Weekly), click here.

Finally, here’s a poem I wrote shortly after Dusty’s death. As you’ll see, Dusty, her journey, and her art, mean a lot to me.

Under London’s damp skies
you heard the call.

Defying the shadows of a predictable life,
you chose to kindle your own inner light.
And in projecting this always fragile, flickering flame,
in your voice and in your songs,
you forged a way of hope and promise
for distant small town girls,
for lonely, “different” boys,
and for all trusting of the possibility
of new life.

Masked woman, bandit queen,
artfully blending pale lipstick and black mascara,
hair of brittleness and gestures of fluidity
into a shamanic whole;
birthing pathways beyond all that
seek to hinder, divide and limit;
and crossing the threshold
with rhythmic flourishes of hand and body
. . . and with spring flowers in your hair.

Yet it was your voice that entranced,
that held tenderly and knowingly
our most cherished hopes and dreams;
your voice that carried us across that threshold
and into the sacred realm of eros,
where dreams of journey and discovery
chart the soul’s trajectory
along serpentine rivers within;
and lead all to Memphis' fertile shores
and to new worlds dawning.

Yet the Quest can ran aground -
with hopes left drowning and
dreams stranded on barren Californian peaks.
Your voice, however, stayed true,
though few sought to listen,
as you sang songs of perception and insight;
of the truth that waves of anguish and pain
can serve to lift to higher, hitherto unknown, ground.
It was across these sacred fields that you walked in solitude -
searching, questioning, growing.
Quests within the Quest, demanding at times silence.

And then, at last, your return!
Like the flowing robe of a Celtic priestess of old,
your voice once more draped and carried
our purest and sweetest dreams
within its warm velvet folds.

You were not though to stay forever within our reach,
for a greater river than the one beside which
you built your sanctuary, would claim and hold you
in its terrifying yet wondrous current.

It takes courage to resist
but a greater, deeper courage to let go
and embrace the ultimate transformation.
You displayed both in their due season,
and revealed once again for us
the noble path to follow;
the trusting, ever hopeful spirit to embody.

Michael J. Bayly
March 7, 1999

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Remembering Dusty
Time and the River
Soul Deep
Classic Dusty
Classic Dusty II
Classic Dusty III
The Sound of Two Decades Colliding . . .
Shelby Lynne Celebrates Dusty Springfield
Remembering a Great Soul Singer

Recommended Off-site Links:
Dusty Springfield: Woman of Repute
A Girl Called Dusty
Dusty Devotedly
Dusty Springfield

1 comment:

Mareczku said...

This is very nice, Michael. Thank you for sharing.