I was listening to Spooky by Dusty Springfield the other day.
I’m not particularly interested in her music as a thing in itself, but as part of some kind of great, global soundscape she’s played her part the whole of my life. There’s an experience, a worldliness that lets me tale her seriously enough to let her in to whatever I’m doing when I come across one of her songs playing. There have always been singers like her, and singers who aren’t like her: ones who perform, but when they do it feels as if they’ve left their soul in a drawer somewhere. These singers sing ‘about’ things … they don’t just ‘sing’ something. I listen to Dusty Springfield sing ‘Spooky’ and something happens to me. She isn’t singing about anything, although you could talk about hers song and what it’s about if you want to; she’s singing something that’s in the words, the music and eventually in me.
I don’t know anything about Dusty Springfield. I don’t own any of her music. She’s a voice I hear on the radio sometimes and I always find myself listening.
I know that she died, but she feels alive.
Most of what I hear on the radio now sounds as if the station’s still broadcasting and and everybody’s dead. The world’s ended and the band keeps playing, worse than the Titanic; but at least that seems to have been consoling. When I hear singers like Dusty Springfield I feel in touch with something living. When I listen to a lot of radio I feel a part of myself die.