For a 25 year old lesbian doin’ and sufferin’ through non-monogamous (polyamorous) relationships in 1974, Dory Previn’s hit album, “Dory Previn Live at Carnegie Hall” was a comfort and a relief to me.
Here was another woman writing startling genius lyrics about some of my own traumas—my first Holy Communion, child sexual abuse, the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church, a lover who don’t love you back, and my favorite—a song about my new home’s signature-- the Hollywood Sign.
Listening to how “Hedy Lamar jumped off the third letter O”—not the first letter O, or the second, or just jumped off the damn sign, which hung over my house, but the 3rd letter 0 told me that Previn was a gifted lyricist who saw life’s minutely sad underbelly. I bought the album in 1974 and learned every track, every line, by memory.
Decades later I introduced my spouse to Dory. She too was amazed by the lyrics of a songwriter who captured the debris of catholic girlhood and the lost of a mate (to budding bubblehead actress Mia Farrow) in such agonizing detail. Listening to the album for decades I’d always been convinced that coming out as a lesbian would have solved most of Dory’s problems.
Coming days after losing another closet-case singer, Whitney Houston, makes me all the more sad that talented young women still have to weigh losing fame and talent against living their authentic selves.
We dykes celebrate their lives with the prayer that living openly as a lesbian can one day be embraced as a better alternative than alcohol, drugs, & mental hospitals to women in the music industry.