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How Dusty Springfield Made Adele Possible

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Somewhere in an early '90s college student's CD collection is the song that gilded Adele's six Grammys and pushed Lana Del Rey onto the Saturday Night Live stage about eight months too soon.

Long before Adele triumphed at the Grammys and even long before Sarah McLachlan and Fiona Apple charted their own successes, there was Dusty Springfield and the original blue-eyed soul.

Long before Adele's album 18 sold nearly 7 million copies, 21 started its push into Diamond record territory and Rolling In The Deep was imbedded in the American subconscious, another voice from across the water wormed its way pleasantly into U.S. playlists. Quentin Tarantino didn't want a score for Pulp Fiction. Instead he turned the breakout 1994 film into a mix tape of inherent cool that synced its track list seamlessly with prescient plot points. When John Travolta's vintage cool hitman Vincent Vega first sauntered into the living room of Uma Thurman's Mia Wallace -- the boss' wife -- it took one song to ignite their slow burn.

Dusty Springfield's Son of a Preacher Man had been languishing on oldies radio playlists somewhere between The Hollies' Bus Stop and Petula Clark's I Know A Place. The weight of Springfield's shift from the pop act behind I Only Want To Be With You and Wishin' And Hopin' to the deep soul sound of her 1969 release Dusty In Memphis was a faded footnote in a Timi Yuro or Carly Simon biography.

If Adele's Rolling In The Deep marked the bitter end of a "rubbish relationship," Springfield's backyard walks with young Billy was its giddy, sexy, optimistic beginning. Once the mono-tracked version of Son Of A Preacher Man appeared in Pulp Fiction, it pushed that film's soundtrack into the Billboard 200, saved one of Tarantino's trademark scenes and introduced a generation of dorm room and house party regulars to female blue-eyed soul.

It's not that the concept was completely dead, but aside from the occasional Lisa Stansfield or Teena Marie single, the blue-eyed soul of the '70s and '80s was a boys club -- almost exclusively the domain of Michael McDonald, Hall & Oates, Robert Palmer, Phil Collins, Bobby Caldwell and scads of other dental office favorites. When Son of a Preacher Man caught its second wind, however, the ground had already been prepared by ethereal tracks such as Julee Cruise's Twin Peaks theme Falling, Mazzy Star's Fade Into You and just about every track from Sarah McLachlan's Fumbling Toward Ecstasy album.

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