Friday, June 23, 2006

Dory Previn: Going Home is Such a Low and Lonely Ride

I'm still a little wary about proffering Wikipedia as a source, so I'll give my Google search results.

Cherry-picking some interesting facts -- Previn was married to Andre Previn; he left her for Mia Farrow. Also, the Previns wrote together, most notably perhaps the songs from The Valley of the Dolls.

Probably the best song on Jarvis Cocker and Steve Mackey's The Trip compilation, Dory Previn's "The Lady with the Braid" hitches its pretty country-rock groove to a lyric that is witty, knowing, disarming and a little unnerving too. (As the reviewer on Pitchfork suggests, astutely for a change, it's not unlike a Jarvis Cocker lyric.)

The lyric skips from detail to detail in a manner that is almost stream-of-conscious -- my favorite is the "cup of homemade coffee" with honey in it. Most songs that get described as "conversational" never come close to real conversation like this does.

The more I listen to "The Lady with the Braid," the more elusive the narrator/Previn seems, making my reactions all the more complex. Frankly, the narrator comes off pretty neurotic -- intentionally, I think. But because the song is so carefully composed, you are just drawn in further. Ultimately, the song is a tender but knowing tribute to human fraility.

Just as my obsession with this song was reaching its peak, I discovered that Camera Obscura have a song on their new album called "Dory Previn." The mind boggles. It's a nice song, with a similar but slower soft-rock sound to "The Lady with the Braid." (Actually, it sounds more like Wilco's "Far, Far Away.") But the lyric, in which the singer listens to Previn in the wake of a break-up, is way more prosaic.

Also, I learned today that "The Lady with the Braid" is one of Stuart Murdoch's favorite lyrics.

It looks like Previn's albums are not impossible to find, but they're not cheap on Amazon either. Here's hoping I'll be able to track some down for a sensible price.


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