Dusty Springfield – Son of a Preacher Man

This song never gets old to me. The song was released in 1968 and peaked at #10 in the Billboard 100, #9 in the Uk. The song was written by John Hurley and Ronnie Wilkins.

Dusty Springfield had such a smooth voice.

From Songfacts. 

This was written by John Hurley and Ronnie Wilkins. Dusty’s version is the most popular, but it has been covered by many artists, including Elvis Presley, Bobbie Gentry, Foo Fighters, Chet Atkins, Joss Stone, and Natalie Merchant. The song was originally offered to Aretha Franklin (who is a preacher’s daughter), but she turned it down because she thought it was disrespectful. She subsequently changed her mind and did a cover version of it.

The backup vocals were by a female group called the Sweet Inspirations, who were made up of Cissy Houston, Sylvia Shemwell, Myrna Smith and Estelle Brown. They were the sought-after female backup vocalists in the New York area, having performed on albums by Aretha Franklin, Wilson Picket, Van Morrison and many others. With four singers, they could create a rich, soulful sound that suited this song perfectly.

Later in 1969, the Sweet Inspirations went to work for Elvis Presley, touring and recording with him. Cissy Houston left the group at this time so she could spend more time with her children, including her young daughter, Whitney Houston.

Son of a Preacher Man

Billy-Ray was a preacher’s son
And when his daddy would visit he’d come along
When they gathered round and started talkin’
That’s when Billy would take me walkin’
A-through the backyard we’d go walkin’
Then he’d look into my eyes
Lord knows to my surprise

The only one who could ever reach me
Was the son of a preacher man
The only boy who could ever teach me
Was the son of a preacher man
Yes he was, he was
Ooh, yes he was

Being good isn’t always easy
No matter how hard I try
When he started sweet-talkin’ to me
He’d come and tell me everything is all right
He’d kiss and tell me everything is all right
Can I get away again tonight?

The only one who could ever reach me
Was the son of a preacher man
The only boy who could ever teach me
Was the son of a preacher man
Yes he was, he was
(Ooh…) Lord knows he was
Yes he was

How well I remember
The look that was in his eyes
Stealin’ kisses from me on the sly
Takin’ time to make time
Tellin’ me that he’s all mine
Learnin’ from each other’s knowing
Lookin’ to see how much we’ve grown

And the only one who could ever reach me
Was the son of a preacher man
The only boy who could ever teach me
Was the son of a preacher man
Yes he was, he was
Ooh, yes he was

The only one who could ever reach me
He was the sweet-talking son of a preacher man
The only boy who could ever teach me
I kissed the son of a preacher man
The only one who could ever move me
The sweet-lovin’ son of a preacher man
The only one who could ever groove me
Ahh, ooh, ahh….

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

30 thoughts on “Dusty Springfield – Son of a Preacher Man”

  1. Recorded at American Sound Studios in Memphis. The band that backed her was called the Memphis Boys. they also player on the Neil Diamond’s hit Sweet Caroline and Aretha Franklin’s Natural Woman.

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  2. Great song, great singer. I listen to her ‘Greatest hits’ quite frequently. I believe Elton John said of her she was the greatest White female singer who ever lived – vaguely racist overtones notwithstanding, a pretty high compliment!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I just saw they were making a movie- a story on my feed this morning. I forget who is to play Dusty- I never heard of her before which doesn’t mean anything she could be a big star as far as I know! I think the film is still in the planning stages.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I am the very same… Ok I looked her up…No I don’t recognize her… The few times I know is if Bailey points them out.
        I’ve never read about her life.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. from what I’ve read the substance problems probably arose from her fear of being “outed”. It’s been suggested she had a lengthy affair with Carole Pope, who is a singer well known to us Canadians as the leather-bound singer for Rough Trade. No one in public knew it back in the day (80s) of course

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I can’t tell you the shivers this song gives me. A few years before we moved to Wales, several of my most favourite singles (45rpm vinyl, I mean) went missing. We searched the house for them and never found them, don’t know if they were stolen or if I somehow managed to tip the stack of them into a waste bin by mistake (surely I’d have noticed?) and one of the missing records was this. I’ve got it on minidisc via cassette, still, and now on a compilation Dusty Springfield cd, but I still long for that single as I played it to death. I even had my name scrawled on it in case I lost it! (Did you do that with your records or tapes when you were a kid?) I also loved the B side called Goin’ Back., though that was an entirely type of different song.

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    1. It was a favorite of mine growing up.

      Yes I did write my name on singles because friends would come over and we would get all of them mixed up. A lot of my singles were given to me by my cousin Janean. She helped form my taste. She gave me Monkee albums and many singles when I was 6 like Tommy James, Joe South…a lot of things. Her name was on all of them so I just left it because it has a sad ending. She died at 17 years old in 1975. She was a very hippy girl that drove a Volkswagen Bug.

      Her brother that same year got me into the Beatles.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh how terrible to die that young. 😦 Hopefully she enjoyed her life while it lasted, and she (and her brother) obviously left a lasting impression on you

        I’ve one single with a friend’s name on it. Every time I went round to her place I asked her to play it and eventually she got so fed up with me asking that she gave it to me! It was one of the very few Eurovision Song Contest (winner, I think) that I loved (usually I hated that show… urgh). I was 13 at the time and the singer was only a few years older. It was called Non ho L’eta, by Gigliola Cinquetti.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Her brother got me into playing guitar also. They are both gone now. She died while giving birth at 17… It hit me bad as an 8 year old.

        Great story! That is funny Val… That is a great way of getting a song. It’s a very pretty song…I don’t know if I ever heard of that program before.

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      3. I can imagine it must’ve hurt you a lot then.

        Oh gosh, Eurovision is huge and has been going since I was a kid. Its content is generally thought of (by music lovers, anyway!) as over-popular and homogenized. There have been very few songs on it that I’ve ever liked and I refused to watch it probably from my mid or late teens onwards! (But maybe that’s just me being snobbish.) Here’s a list of the winners since it began: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Eurovision_Song_Contest_winners

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      4. It really did… had nightmares until I was a teenager about her…me being checking out at a grocery store and I look up and there she is…she shouldn’t scare me…I loved her to death but it did.

        Wow I knew nothing about this. I do like how it’s about songwriters…that is a good thing. Of the performers I recognized Lulu.

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      5. It’s odd that I can still see what I saw in my dreams. They stopped in my twenties. I do dream I’m talking to my dad…but it’s never scary or my mom…must have been because I was a kid.

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      6. For several months after my mum died (of cancer) I had nightmares, but as time went on they gradually changed just to dreaming she was visiting me. I used to write down my dreams and, until the late 1990s I had a nearly photographic memory and could remember all my dreams going back to the age of eight or nine. Actually I still vaguelly remember that childhood one: demonic goblins dancing upside down round my ceiling lightshade!!

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Oh geez those are dreams you don’t want to remember. I just remember a few of mine from childhood. A dream about snakes always got to me but not too many bad ones.
        I’m glad those dreams about your mom changed.

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