The lyrics to Dusty Springfield’s 1970 song ”Spooky” are slightly odd. They have a woman describing her relationship with a fickle, unreliable, flirtatious man. ”Love’s kind of crazy with a spooky little boy like you”. She constantly finds him winking with his “little eye” at other women. “I get confused and I don’t know where I stand / But then you smile and hold my hand.” On the other hand, she won’t give him a straight answer when he tries to ask her out. For the time definitely, and largely to a 2014 audience as well I believe, the gender roles in the lyrics are confusing. This is because what Dusty recorded was a gender-flipped version of the original lyrics.

The tune to “Spooky” was written by Mike Sharpe and Harry Middlebrooks Jr. and released as an instrumental in 1967. Later that year it received lyrics by James Cobb and Buddy Buie and was put out by the Floridian rock quartet the Classics IV. In January 1968 Dusty Springfield recorded her version. The original lyrics are about a spooky little girl behaving exactly like she might be expected to in mid-60s pop lyrics. Also they have a verse that was omitted from Dusty’s version, clearly because it couldn’t be gender-flipped convincingly at the time:

Just like a ghost, you’ve been a-hauntin’ my dreams
So I’ll propose… on Halloween

There’s one final wrinkle to this story that makes it even better. Dusty Springfield, being gay, would probably have preferred to record the original lyrics. Love, after all, is kind of crazy with a spooky little girl like you.

Comments

  1. #1 Lynn Dewees
    Earth
    March 15, 2014

    Hearing the Classic IV version ignited some Traces in my memories. Seems there were up-and-down relationships going on – One girlfriend was Spooky, then one was Stormy but finally one was Sunny.

  2. #2 Birger Johansson
    March 17, 2014

    In Ashes to Ashes (watch out for time-travelling cop Alex Drake), DCI Gene Hunt can’t believe the maker of this song could be gay:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hK0LZu80FHU

  3. #3 Birger Johansson
    March 19, 2014

    If Dusty Springfield had been diagnosed with breast cancer today, she would have had much better chances to survive. No big breakthrough, but lots of small improvements.

  4. #4 Jane
    March 20, 2014

    @Martin. In future when you’re going to post something like this, give us a bit of warning that it’s an earworm, can’t you? I’ve got the chorus going round and round in my head. Grrr.

  5. #5 Birger Johansson
    March 21, 2014

    Jane, I recommend you sing this REALLY LOUD whenever you have people around you. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WNrx2jq184

  6. #6 John Massey
    March 21, 2014

    Did someone mention ear worms?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgPMYQTINNk

    Matched only by the brilliance of the choreography.

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