DORY PREVIN (part 1 of 2)

DORY PREVIN – 3 albums (1970-1971)

Here’s a complete 180-degree turn from what I’ve been posting recently. Dunno if you’ll even like it, clinic but I thought I’d give it a whirl.

I first heard of Dory Previn when I was catsitting.

A few years ago, more about I wanted to help out this friend of mine, who was leaving town for two months. I ended up having to travel 20 MILES in order to catsit for this friend, not something I really thought about at length when I accepted the task. I live on L.A.’s westside, and she lives in Eagle Rock. If you’re at all familiar with the layout of Los Angeles, you’ve no doubt already cringed upon thinking of the dreaded 10-110-101 Freeway downtown interchange, the ONLY “easy” way to take the freeway up to those parts from my end of town — and possibly one of the two most clogged traffic spots in Los Angeles proper, the other being the long stretch of the 405 between Ventura Boulevard and LAX.

Because of the extreme pain-in-the-ass length between my house and the cats, I originally made sure to leave out three days’ worth of cat food and water between each visit. My dumb ass failed to realize that, in the very height of summer, this would quickly lead to an ANT HOLOCAUST infesting the kitchen, with a trail leading from outside the building, up the exterior wall and into the apartment through the second-floor kitchen windowsill. Upon the invasion, the cats became terrified, and refused to cross the line of marching ants, preventing them from getting to the food I’d left out for them, leaving it all for the insects.

I researched online that one can stop an ant infestation by getting out a pack of childrens’ sidewalk chalk(!) and drawing a thick line between the march of ants and wherever you want them to not advance to (it’s got something to do with the pH balance of the chalk — the ants find it toxic to their foot pads.) I ended up drawing a complex series of symbols that looked suitable for a pagan sacrificial rite onto the floor, a network of multi-colored chalk tracks designed to stave off the ant flow. It worked out to the tune of about 80% — I would occasionally have to give the chalk lines a touch-up job, and also had to deal with a smaller flow of ants trying to travel all the way up the kitchen wall and back down onto the floor. Throughout all of this, the cats remained traumatized, and I had to put their food bowls right at the edge of the kitchen doorway, because they refused to eat in the kitchen anymore. They still, however, got over their fears sufficiently to use the litter box, also found in the kitchen. Not quite sure how that one worked, but whatever –

In order to deal with the stress of both the ant armies and the ridiculousness of having accepted the catsitting gig in general, I turned to my friend’s sizeable LP collection, in the hopes that I’d find a few gems I’d previously never heard of before. I found my prize in the form of Dory Previn.

Buried in one of several piles of vinyl was “Mary C. Brown and The Hollywood Sign” (1972), an LP with an innocuous, yet striking gatefold cover. Having never heard of a “Dory Previn” before, I plunked it on the turntable, and was taken aback by its warmth. You heard me! (What can I say, I’m used to stuff with sharper edges.) There was a particular brand of easy-goingness found within those songs that I was drawn to immediately — but I can’t tell you that that will translate directly to you. It hit a nerve with me, but it’s hard for me to explain. Previn’s stuff doesn’t fall within the normal range of what one thinks when they hear the phrase “singer-songwriter.” It’s just kooky, and it was a blast to listen to her works. Allmusic sez:

Dory Previn was a successful lyricist for motion picture theme songs during the 1960s and early 1970s, earning three Academy Award nominations for best song; in the mid-1970s and early 1980s, she published books of memoirs and wrote and performed in musical theater works. But she remains best known for the six albums of original songs and one live album she released in a confessional, singer-songwriter style between 1970 and 1976.

Previn, who refused to fly, rarely performed live, which tended to limit her commercial success (though four of her albums just missed charting among the top 200 bestsellers).

The first three records have somewhat of a unexpected prog bent, which made me really get into them easily. Might you derive the same pleasures?

Dory Previn – “On My Way To Where”, 1970 (ZIP file)
Dory Previn – “Mythical Kings and Iguanas”, 1971 (ZIP file)
Dory Previn – “Reflections In A Mud Puddle/Taps, Tremors and Time Steps”, 1971 (ZIP file)

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877 Responses to DORY PREVIN (part 1 of 2)

  1. billy milk says:

    these are genius… thank you x

  2. palakaloo says:

    Hey Egg City!

    Mythical Kings And Iguanas has been one of my favorite LPs since I picked up a used copy in maybe 1977 or 1978. Something like that anyway. I have not gone a month since that time without spinning that one at least a time or two. No, really. I’ve picked up all of her records through the years but that one is just somehow particularly special for me. Here’s hoping you will be turning a few folks on to this wonderful woman’s work through this listing!

    Haven’t even finished listening to all them NatLamps yet and you pop up with this. Whataguy!!

    Thanks again, dave g

  3. kenny & co. says:

    this post is reason #2457 why i love your website…thank you for the diversity and inspired picks!!

    i heard about dory when she was thinking of doing a comeback show about 6 years ago. she lives near some friends of mine, who i was in a band with at the time, and she had decided we would be her backing band. so i went out and tracked down her albums and listened listened listened…i was also struck by the uniqueness of her songwriting and presentation…but then i’m a sucker for judee sill and linda perhacs and early-’70s joni mitchell (and early-’70s anything, i guess).

    (the show never happened…she decided she didn’t have that much of a need to get back in front of a crowd, i guess.)

    …by the way, i loved your detailed “ant holocaust” story…i appreciate any background about how you discover your music!

  4. HaHa says:

    Always good to see Dory discussed…and let’s not forget how she got to enjoy the last laugh on husband Andre, who ditched her for Mia Farrow. (One of Dory’s best songs is about the topic.) Dory could be inconsistent on her albums, but a bunch of downloads is a great way for newcomers to discover her charms.

  5. Chris says:

    OMG! You had to drive a WHOLE 20 miles?!! I live next to ER and drive to the westside all the time. It’s a part of life here.

    BTW, LOVE this blog!

  6. matt says:

    …married to andre at one time if I’m not mistaken?Always at the local library back in the day.

    …and ‘danzig’ is my anti-spam word for this comment?

  7. Cash Nexus says:

    Angels and Devils The Following Day:
    “One was a poet / one drove a truck
    one would make love / the other would fuck.”

    made me spit my coffee.

    Thanks!

  8. robomatic says:

    I only heard a portion (the last 30 seconds) of her song “King Kong” on WBCN back in the day. Took me twenty years to find it. Glad to see someone else appreciates her knock-kneed view of life.

  9. kedgeman says:

    pOl – thanks, but what is the password for your album?

  10. john says:

    Enjoyed your piece on Dory Previn. I saw in a Comment that pOL posted megaupload links to her live album. I successfully downloaded by the need a password to open. Do you know what that is? Thanks!

  11. bret says:

    In re-reading this piece after I posted it a year ago — I realized that I forgot to include how this same “ant holocaust” story led me to discover, in addition to Dory Previn, the genius of Lobo.

  12. mike says:

    thanks for posting these! I was big into Dory Previn in the early 90′s after finding a bunch of her old albums and a book of poetry in a used record store. Didn’t see it in your description. But her husband Andre Previn dumped her for ex Mrs Sinatra Mia Farrow and broke her heart. Is it any wonder her albums are like the background music for the life & times of Sylvia Plath?? Tragic genius!

  13. arizonaphossils says:

    holy cow! what a fantastic site you have here. and thank you for the dory previn. she’s really an unsung hero of the ‘demystification-of-the-hollywood-dream’ era of LA rock/pop from the 70s. timeless stuff right here!