We head back to 1966 for this week's LCM Classic. 'You Don't Have To Say You Love Me' was a UK No.1 hit for the great Dusty Springfield. The song also reached No.4 on the Billboard Hot 100 making the song Dusty's most successful hit single. It was originally based on a 1965 Italian song by Pino Donaggio and lyricist Vito Pallavicini entitled 'Io che non vivo (senza te)" or 'I, who can't live (without you)'
Dusty Springfield, who participated at the 1965 Sanremo Festival, was in the audience when Donaggio and Miller performed "Io che non vivo (senza te)" and despite having no awareness of the lyrics' meaning the song moved Dustry to tears. She obtained an acetate recording of Donaggio's song, but allowed a year to go by before actively pursuing the idea of recording an English version.
On 9 March 1966, Dusty had an instrumental track of Donaggio's composition recorded at Philips Studio Marble Arch: the session personnel included guitarist Big Jim Sullivan and drummer Bobby Graham. Dusty still lacked an English lyric to record. Eventually Dusty's friend Vicki Wickham, the producer of Ready Steady Go!, would write the required English lyric with her own friend Simon Napier-Bell who was the manager of the Yardbirds. Neither Wickham nor Napier-Bell had any discernible experience as songwriters: according to Napier-Bell, he and Wickham were dining out when she mentioned to him that Dusty hoped to get an English lyric for Donaggio's song and the two lightheartedly took up the challenge of writing the lyric themselves: "We went back to [Wickham]'s flat and started working on it. We wanted to go to a trendy disco so we had about an hour to write it. We wrote the chorus and then we wrote the verse in a taxi to wherever we were going." Neither Wickham or Napier-Bell had any understanding of the Italian lyrics of the original song: according to Wickham they attempted to write their own lyric for an anti-love song to be called "I Don't Love You"; when that original idea proved unproductive it was adjusted first to "You Don't Love Me" and then "You Don't Have to Love Me" which was finalized as "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" to fit the song's melody. Napier-Bell was later to title his first book (an autobiographical account of the British music scene of the 1960s) 'You Don't Have to Say You Love Me' after the song.
Dusty recorded her vocal the next day: unhappy with the acoustics in the recording booth she eventually moved into a stairwell to record. She was not satisfied with her vocal until she had recorded 47 takes.
Released on 25 March 1966 in the UK, the single release of her recording became a huge hit and remains one of the songs most identified with her. When Dusty died from breast cancer in March 1999, the song was featured on Now 42 as a tribute.
The song proved so popular in the US that Dusty's 1965 album 'Ev'rything's Coming Up Dusty' was released there with a slightly different track listing, and titled after the hit single (the B side of the US single, "Little by Little" was issued in the UK as a separate A side and reached No.17 there). In 2004, the song made the Rolling Stone list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time at No.491.