At Italy’s Sanremo Festival in 1965, Pino Donaggio and Jody Miller performed a new song Donaggio co-wrote entitled “Io che non vivo (senza te).” In the audience was singer Dusty Springfield, who liked the song and wanted to record an English-language version.
Springfield told her friend Vicki Wickham about the song. Wickham, producer of the TV show Ready Steady Go!, told her friend Simon Napier-Bell, manager of The Yardbirds, while they were dining out. Though neither was known as a songwriter, they took a stab at writing new lyrics after that dinner, first at Wickham’s home and continuing in a taxi on the way to a club. They had no idea what the Italian lyrics were about. The composition they worked on started with the title “I Don’t Love You,” which became “You Don’t Love Me,” then “You Don’t Have to Love Me,” and, finally, “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me.”
In the new lyrics, the singer’s partner appears to have fallen out of love with the singer. She still loves him/her and is willing to accept the lack of reciprocity of that feeling, provided the other person stays with her – “You don’t have to say you love me, just be close at hand.”
Springfield went into the studio the next day to record the new words. Unhappy with the acoustics in the recording booth, she went into a stairway to do a take. In total it was reported she did 47 takes before settling on one she liked.
“You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” became Dusty Springfield’s first and only #1 hit in the UK, where she had thirteen top tens. In the US the record hit #4. Rolling Stone included it on their list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Today Tunes du Jour celebrates the birthday of the late, great Dusty Springfield.