Dory Previn (1925 – 2012)
It was poignantly appropriate that the great songstress of heart-break should have died on St Valentine’s Day. The melancholy, poetic and painfully honest Dory Previn will always be remembered for songs that cut the crap as far as personal relationships and inner suffering are concerned. Songs that were written and recorded at a time of mental stress and even breakdown but that speak to us all – well everyone who is honest enough to look into their own souls every now and then.
She had, of course, had a life before she made a handful of painfully honest albums in the early 1970s otherwise those experience-wounded words would never have been written. She was successful too as a Hollywood songwriter who went on to collaborate with her husband-to-be, the conductor Andre Previn.
No matter how much pain was described and encapsulated in those songs from over forty years ago, luckily, from what I have read, Dory made friends with Andre again and also remarried happily and, as we now learn, lived to a fine old age where, I hope, she continued to spread her wisdom.
I particularly loved her album Mythical Kings And Iguanas (1971) with at least two stand-out songs, The Lady With The Braid where love and loneliness add up to something messy but also, more or less, comforting:
Then there is Mythical Kings And Iguanas, the title track, where the great lady reminds us all to keep our minds and our bodies very much down to earth:
Before all that pain, she could still write direct and humanly profound lyrics – nothing better than her words to Andre Previn’s music in the theme from the movie The Valley Of The Dolls (1967), memorably and, dare I say, perfectly song by Whitney Houston’s greater cousin, the wonderful Dionne Warwick:
Theme from the Valley Of The Dolls