Son Of A Preacher Man

Album: Dusty In Memphis (1969)
Charted: 9 10
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • This song is about a young girl who sneaks away with the preacher's son every time his dad comes to visit. This "Son of a Preacher Man" woos her and teaches her about love. He is the only boy she has ever loved.
  • 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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Adam - Dewsbury, England
  • Dusty Springfield was born Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien in London on 4/16/1939. She died in 1999 or breast cancer. Shortly before her death she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and was given the Order of the British Empire (OBE).
  • Some famous preacher's sons: Marvin Gaye, Wyclef Jean, Tim Curry, John Hurt, John Ashcroft, Martin Luther King Jr.
  • 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.
  • There is a drink called a "Son Of A Preacher Man." It's made with peppermint schnapps, vodka or gin, and lemonade.
  • This was used for a key sequence in the movie Pulp Fiction, which made the song popular again in 1994. Director Quentin Tarantino said he would have cut the scene if he hadn't been able to get the rights to the tune.
  • The rap group Cypress Hill sampled this at the beginning of their song "Hits from the Bong."
  • Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker's son Jay Bakker has written an autobiography titled Son Of A Preacher Man. The Bakkers were televangelists who were disgraced in the late '80s when it was revealed that Jim had an affair with Jessica Hahn and bilked his followers out of lots of money. Jim Bakker went to jail for tax evasion.
  • This was also featured in the 2000 thriller Frequency, starring Dennis Quaid and Jim Caviezel. The song is skipping on a record player in a dead girl's apartment.
  • This was used in a 1997 Dr. Pepper commercial, where a preacher's son uses the soft drink to woo his crush.
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Comments: 26

  • John from South CarolinaOne of three songs that I can find with the same word used over. Taking time to make time.
    Archie Bells gonna be a show down, you better be better. And Drifters There goes my baby beside my side.
  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaRecently heard the musicians on this song were the Swampers.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn November 24th 1968, Dusty Springfield performed "Son of a Preacher Man" on the CBS-TV program 'The Ed Sullivan Show'...
    At the time the song was in its first week on Billboard's Hot Top 100 at position #62...
    {See the 3nd post below}...
    Aretha Franklin's covered version of the song was the B-side of her "Call Me"; and "Call Me" would peak at #13 {for 2 weeks} on the Top 100 on March 29th, 1970...
    Sadly, Ms. Springfield, born Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien, passed away on March 2nd, 1999 at the young age of 59...
    May she R.I.P
  • Adam from PolandMaybe I am not a native speaker of English, but I am amazed at all the controversy about Billy. I think it wasn't that uncommon for a preachers' son to become preacher himself. I also think that Dusty didn't have a speech impediment. To me the words were never "that's when", "Thass when" or "cousin" (although I can see how you would get there :P). To me he was always "parson Billy". I don't know if it makes much sense, but that's definitely what I am hearing there :)
  • Coy from Palestine, TxAretha Franklin did record the song, but her record company wouldn't release it saying-- "it sounds too gospel". It is a myth that she didn't want to record it.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 12th 1969 "Son-Of-A-Preacher Man" by Dusty Springfield peaked at #10 (for 2 weeks) on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; it had entered the chart on November 24th, 1968 and spent 12 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #9 on the United Kingdom's Singles chart...
    Two covered versions have charted on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart; Peggy Little (#40 in 1969) and Sherrie Austin (#46 in 2004)...
    R.I.P. Ms. Springfield, born Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O'Brien, (1939 - 1999).
  • Camille from Toronto, OhAnother bit of trivia: Jim Bakker, the former televangelist of the PTL Club (Praise the Lord), has a son, Jay, who's autobiography is titled "Son of a Preacher Man".
  • Camille from Toronto, OhDusty sings: "that's when Billy would take me walkin'". She slurs the contraction: "thass when Billy would take me walkin'", and accents the first two words to match the beat of the song. Okay, that out of the way...I always thought this version was the Bobbie Gentry version, I never realized Dusty Springfield even sang this song. You clearly hear Bobbie Gentry sing, "that's when Billy would take me walkin'" in her version. Okay, if you want to call it blue-eyed soul, I'll go along with that. It's pretty sensuous. Hey, also for the record in case you didn't know, Richard Carpenter of the famed group "The Carpenters" actually married his first cousin...jess' a li'l trivia there for ya.
  • Jay from Centereach, Long Island, NyThis is the definition of blue eyed soul.
  • Connor from Rochester, NyNeil Young first said "its better to burn out than to fade away," not kurt cobain. although i do respect kurt
  • Ameelia from London, United KingdomYes, when you listen to the Dusty and various other versions on youtube the lyrics are "That's when Billy...", not "Cousin Billy..." - although like others I have heard that term used. It would not mean her actual cousin, in a lot of family churches people used to (and probably still do) call other adults Aunty/Uncle and hence the term cousin would just be another child/friend in the church network. Also I think this is very true in the South in the US and in particular in the 'gospel' church movement.

  • Ekristheh from Halath, United StatesI always heard it as "Cousin Billy", but assumed that did not necessarily mean a first cousin. Even if it does, first cousin relationships are legal in many states, including several in the Southeast. The style and general atmosphere of the song, along with the accent Dusty is using, suggest Tennessee or perhaps the Carolinas.
  • Richard from Vancouver, BcBilly wasn't her cousin. The lyric is "That's when Billy would take me walking".
  • Ken from Louisville, KyAlthough this song was recorded for the "Dusty In Memphis" album, producers Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd and Arif Mardin decided thet were not happy with the vocals that Dusty laid down for the song when they were mixing it. So they asked Dusty to re-record the vocal track in a studio in London.
  • John from Fort Worth, TxI have known this song since it was new. Chuck, (see about 5 posts below - and see the first post) in the very first lines of the song the narrator sings "Cousin" Billy. In the Southwestern US the word 'cousin' can mean "related" in many different ways. The middle-to-modern English adopted word "cousin" goes way back to an older idea. In our day, the term need not always mean 'first cousin'.
    John Martin,46, Fort Worth, TX
  • Joycemorrison from Phfirst of all, i would like to try that drink.
    i fell in love with the song in "Pulp Fiction" --the lyrics caught me and the music is so catchy.
  • Mark from Seattle, WaSong was first offered to Marilee Rush, who was riding high with the hit Angel in the Morning. Turned it down because of marital/manager problems. Got this from her former husband/manager Neil Rush
  • Dennis from Chicagoland Burrows, IlCypress Hill sampled the guitar riff from this song on their "Hits from the Bong" and it sounds terriffic. After listening to their song, I quite frequently feel the need to get down to it and pop in Dusty's.
  • Nancy from Cranston, RiCan anyone tell me anything about the composers of this song? John Hurley and Ronnie Wilkins
  • Leya Qwest from Anchorage, AkMy best friend Laurie Richards in Anchorage is the only cross-dressing performer I know who can successfully lip-synch this beautiful song in any drag club in the world with the style and panache it truly deserves. No doubt that upon hearing the rendition, Dusty would proudly exclaim "Laurie, YOU ROCK!"
  • Chuck from Chino, CaBilly-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 back yard we'd go walkin'
    Then he'd look into my eyes
    Lord knows to my surprise
  • Chuck from Chino, CaThe lyrics say nothing of Billy being her cousin.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, Scshe was one of the best vocalists in jpop-rock ever1 Hope whe's up ther still singin'.
  • Nickc from Ft. Wayne, InDusty was a host on the 1960's British rock TV show, "Ready Steady Go," where she sang this song as one of her own numbers.
  • Rato from Lisbon, PortugalThe mp3 file of this song is now available for download in www.discosantigos.com
  • Edward from Miami, FlDid anybody realize that the "son of a preacher man" who taught her love was her COUSIN BILLY??!! YOU GO DUSTY!!
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