These posts are about the songs that just barely failed to cross the key line of chart success, entering the Billboard Top 40. Every song featured in this series peaked at number 41.

dusty

Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien was born in London, in 1939. When in her teens, she started pursuing music as a professional career, starting with some very basic jobs singing at camps and then moving up to be a member of a girl group called the Lana Sisters. She left that act to join her older brother in a vocal trio he was forming. According to lore, the new group adopted a name inspired by the verdant springtime landscape in which they often rehearsed. O’Brien decided she needed a stage name and chose to the group’s name into her new moniker, and so she became known as Dusty Springfield.

Before long, Springfield was out on her own, releasing elegant pop singles. She had the voice, she had the look. She was practically an embodiment of a certain nineteen-sixties style, as the buttoned-up nineteen-fifties gave way to a gradually loosening of mores and a zingier outlook. And, though Springfield was a solid songwriter in her own right, she was a skilled interpreter of other’s songs, a vital skill in the echoing culture of the time. When she heard Dionne Warwick’s version of “Wishin’ and Hopin’,” written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Springfield knew she could make it her own. It became her first Top 10 hit in the U.S.

“All Cried Out” was the follow-up single to that hit. Slinky and romantically forlorn, it’s a splendid showcase for Springfield, offering irrefutable evidence that her voice could be nestled deep into lush, Phil Spector-style production and still burst forth, fully commanding the track. Rarely in the history of the form has there been another vocalist like Springfield, powerful and yet fully at ease at the same time. “All Cried Out” is wonderful, but it didn’t match its immediate predecessor in terms of upward chart mobility. It peaked at #41 on Billboard.

 

Other entries in this series can be found by clicking on the “Top 40 Smash Near Misses” tag.

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