SXSW review – Dory Previn: On My Way to Where

The eye-opening documentary about Dory Previn titled appropriately Dory Previn: On My Where to Where dwells in her full story. For those who knew her superficially through LPs and FM radio from the 1970s it puts her career in perspective. For those who’ve never heard of her it will provoke a quest for the solitude contained in her lyrics.

A young Dory Langdon was teamed with Andre Previn by her Hollywood contacts to write songs for movies. They eventually married and she took his last name.

As a team they were nominated for Oscars for Best Song three times. One of those was “Come Saturday Morning” from The Sterile Cuckoo.

“We’ll Saturday-spend till the end of the day, just I and my friend.”

Perhaps not oddly one of their best collaborations, the title song for Valley of the Dolls, did not get any noms yet is a mainstay of mid-60s pop as sung by Dionne Warwick. Originally the number was written for Judy Garland before she was fired from the film.

Previn’s difficult family life comes to the fore; her father was convinced he was sterile after being exposed to gas during WWII and refused to believe she was his biological daughter.

Such trauma found its way into her songs such as “With My Daddy in the Attic.”

“Daddy in the attic, That is where my dark attraction lies …”

Her refusal to fly meant that she and her husband were often apart as he traveled extensively in his job as a conductor. A mental breakdown further erodes their marriage with Andre leaving her for Mia Farrow.

Archival clips show Dory Previn jokingly referring to her certified mad status with the paperwork to prove it.

A successful series of several LPs in the 1970s established her as an artist to be noticed; her fame was FM as opposed to AM. To play a gig in London she traveled by train to the East Coast and took a boat to sail the UK.

Additional recollections from her second husband Joby Baker, an actor known for Elvis and Gidget movies, add a sense of accomplishment to her later life.

If you’ve never heard of Previn you’ll find her songs speak honestly about the nuances of life with a bittersweet tinge of self recognition. If you have heard of Previn chances are the doc touches on some of your favorite songs, such as “The Lady With the Braid,” which closes out the credit roll.

“Would you care to stay till sunrise?, It’s completely your decision …”

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