I Only Want To Be With You (1963)

Dusty Springfield

Written by Mike Hawker and Ivor Raymonde
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I only want to be with you dusty headshotWomen in Rock-N-Roll were kept in a twilight zone for a number of years after the fading of the early R&B-rooted singers like Koko Taylor and Lavern Baker. Female singers were shunted into less raucous, less sexual arrangements, usually missing what some consider to be a key musical ingredient in “real” Rock, the electric guitar. (Or barring that, a heavy-duty saxophone.)

Dusty Springfield was no different, although her producers and arrangers – in spite of the sanding down and varnishing of her sound – saw to it that her songs fell definitively into the circle of Rock-N-Roll. There is, in fact, a pretty damned good guitar playing cat and mouse with the Phil-Spector-inspired wall-of-sound backing. It’s a shame it wasn’t produced farther forward in the mix.

Dusty swings London

“I Only Want To Be With You” was Dusty’s first hit, horning in on The Beatles’ British invasion of America by popping up high on the U.S. charts right on their heels, taking second in the gold rush to the states. It’s got an insistent message, distilled in the title, and sounds demanding in Springfield’s delivery rather than needy or desperate. It remains a song of conviction, assertion and liberation five decades later.

The girl’s in L-U-V love and no one is going to stop her.

I only want to be with you single jacketI don’t know what it is
that makes me love you so
I only know I never want
to let you go
‘Cause you’ve started something
Oh, can’t you see?
That ever since we met
You’ve had a hold on me
It happens to be true
I only want to be with you

There is a potent brass section, not quite Oakland’s Tower Of Power’s brashly funky symphonic horns, but sassy, bright and soulful nonetheless. A well-placed string session – the one that overwhelms the electric guitar – despite its upfront position on the track, works well.

The ripping, cascading drum rolls and a tickety-tickety-tickety side beat give the song incredible gusto. The bass is not far behind in its strong contribution. Bobby Graham, London’s premier session drummer at the time takes credit for the pounding of the skins. (He also played on The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me.”)

Ultimately, though, it’s Dusty Springfield’s over-the-top voice, British blue-eyed soul at its absolute finest, and a pinnacle for female singers from Rock’s second home not reached until the 2000s with the work of Amie Duffy in songs such as “Warwick Avenue.”

Whereas Amie takes a bluesier turn in her work, Dusty is flat out Rock-N-Roll in “I Only Want To Be With You.” It cooks with an absolute vengeance, barreling forward at a pace that almost leaves the singer – and band – breathless. Listening to it, you get the sense they weren’t fucking around at the studio but came in, hammered out their parts and took it home with great precision, without muddling around.

Dusty belts it out like the queen of the jungle swinging on a vine, incorporating elements of musical theater, Blues, rockin’ pop, and her own soul interpretation of the material.

I only want to be with you dusty and mccartney

Dusty with aspiring hairdresser Paul McCartney

You stopped and smiled at me
And asked if I’d care to dance
I fell into your open arms
And I didn’t stand a chance
Now listen honey
I just want to be
beside you everywhere
As long as we’re together 
honey, I don’t care
‘Cause you’ve started something
Oh, can’t you see?
That ever since we met
You’ve had a hold on me
No matter what you do
I only want to be with you

The song was recorded at the original site of London’s Olympic’s Studio One where, for instance, The Rolling Stones recorded their first single, “Come On,” and The Troggs laid down “Wild Thing.” (See the DNA Source Song – the Troggs and Jimi Hendrix versions here.) Even without remastering, “I Only Want To Be With You” sounds crisp as starched linen, nothing stray, nothing uncertain. It’s stiff as a good English upper lip.

Later Springfield would delve more deeply into Blues and Country, sidling away from Rock-N-Roll. So this one stands as a testimony to what might have been had Dusty had a backing band that could holler and shake the house down and a producer who would let the cowgirl ride.

  • Songwriter Ivor Raymonde also worked with Spain’s Los Bravos, whose big hit – the first by a Spanish group – was “Black Is Black (I Want My Baby Back.”
  • Vick Flick, who plays the instantly recognizable throbbing guitar riff on the James Bond theme, played lead on “I Only Want To Be With You.”
  • Track drummer Bobby Graham was approached by Brian Epstein when The Beatles decided to let Pete Best go. Graham, playing with a more successful band at that moment, turned the Beatles’ manager down. Ringo Starr was “hired” instead.
  • In the second video to the right, Dusty interviews The Beatles between their singing their huge hits.