R.I.P. Dory Previn, Oscar-Nominated Songwriter

Singer and songwriter Dory Previn died Tuesday at her Massachusetts home. She was 86. Previn was perhaps best known for her theme song on the 1967 film Valley of the Dolls. She made a career as an actress and dancer before she met and married musician André Previn in 1959. The couple received an Oscar nomination for their song “Faraway Part Of Town” from the film Pepe in 1961, as well as one for “Second Chance” on the soundtrack of Two for the Seesaw. She earned a third Oscar nomination in 1969 for “Come Saturday Morning” from The Sterile Cuckoo.

She and André divorced in 1970 after he had an affair with actress Mia Farrow. Previn used that rough patch to reach her artistic peak. She released six albums that decade inspired by the divorce, eventually re-marrying in 1984 to Canadian actor Joby Baker. Many of these albums, in addition to her work in the ’60s, inspired a legion of folk, pop, and rock artists.

Jarvis Cocker and Camera Obscura are some of many contemporary acts openly influenced by Previn. Cocker showed as much by choosing her track “Lady with the Braid” as one of his Desert Island Discs in 2005. He also paid tribute to her in his 2011 book of selected lyrics, Mother, Brother, Lover. Camera Obscura released a song named “Dory Previn” on their excellent Let’s Get Out of This Country. The track highlights how Previn overcame many obstacles after her husband André engaged in an affair with Mia Farrow. “Fed up of girls in pretty dresses / With boys who want to teach them a lesson,” sang. “How I adore you Dory Previn / Turned you up to eleven for the band’s ears to bleed.”

MP3: Theme from Valley of the Dolls

MP3: Second Chance

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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