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Because of the extreme pain-in-the-ass length between my house and the cats, I originally made sure to leave out three days’ worth of cat food and water between each visit.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)