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The Dory Previn Concert: Lyrics, Stories and Melody

Updated on December 30, 2010

Dory Previns' Lyrics Combine All of Human Experience: Pain, Humor, Absurdity, Joy and Tragedy

I first discovered Dory Previn at a time in my life when I was rediscovering myself. Her songs were perfect for the task. They bring up new ways of looking at old things, and subjects that people didn't look at at all.

They were sad enough to allow release for the losses I was feeling, hopeful enough to help me get through it and almost always helped me laugh, both at myself and at the absurdity of the world.

I was saddened that so few of her songs are on You Tube, but grateful for what is there. You will miss the lyrical way her voice brought life to the songs. When I read the lyrics I can hear her stylings in my mind. You will miss that if you haven't heard her also. But they are still worth reading as poems.

I did find a video of "Jesus' Baby Sister" but decided to remove it. The recording just wasn't quality enough. There is one of someone else singing "Mythical Kings and Iganas". Just get the albums and you will be happy about it.

Mary C. Brown and the Hollywood Sign

Dori Previn seemed unable to write or sing a song without telling a story, and a story that makes one think about life in a new way.

In this video she tells us how she came to write about The Hollywood Sign.

Mary C. Brown and the Hollywood Sign

Lyrics to Mary C. Brown And The Hollywood Sign :

you know the hollywood sign

that stands in the hollywood hills

i don't think the christ of the andes

ever blessed so many ills

the hollywood sign seems to smile

like it's constantly saying "cheese"

i doubt if the statue of liberty

ever welcomed more refugees

give me your poor

your tired your pimps

you carhops your cowboys

your midgets your chimps

give me your freaks

your whores your harlots

your flunkies your junkies

give me your starlets

mary cecilia brown

rode to town on a malibu bus

she climbed to the top

of the hollywood sign

and with the smallest possible fuss

she jumped off the letter "h"

'cause she did not become a star

she died in less than a minute and a half

she looked a bit like hedy lamarr

sometimes i have this dream

when the time comes for me to go

i will climb that hill

and i'll hang myself

from the second or third letter "o"

when mary cecilia jumped

she finally made the grade

her name was in the obituary column

of both the daily trades

i hope the hollywood sign

cries for the town it touches

the lady of lourdes in her grotto

saw fewer cripples and crutches

give me your poor

your maladjusted

your sick and your beat

and your sad and your busted

give me your has-beens

give me your twisted

your loners your losers

give me your black-listed

you know the hollywood sign

the witness to our confusion

a symbol of dreams

turns out to be

a sign

of disillusion.

[ Mary C. Brown And The Hollywood Sign Lyrics on ]

"Afraid to Be Alone"

This Is The Song that Chef's Lenses Brought to Mind

These lyrics remind us to say we love someone before it is too late. Even strangers. Some may be offended by her verse of Jesus, but it brought me closer to Jesus and boosted my faith.

Lyrics to Scared To Be Alone :

We never stop to wonder

Till a person's gone

We never yearn

To know him

Till he's travelled on

When someone is around us

We never stop to ask

Hey, what's behind your mirror

Hey, who's beneath your mask

We never stop to wonder

Till a person's gone

We never yearn

To know him

Till he's packed

And travelled on

Sweet Marilyn Monroe

On the silver screen

Platinum reflection

In a movie magazine

Well, did you ever

Have a headache

Did your mama own a gramaphone

Did you like to be an actress

Were you scared

To be alone

We never stop to wonder

Till a person's gone

We never yearn

To know him

Till he's travelled on

When someone is around us

We don't know what we're seeing

We take a polaroid picture

To find the human being

We never stop to wonder

Till a person's gone

We never yearn

To know him

Till he's packed

And travelled on

Sweet beautiful Jesus

On a painted cross

Polystyrene body

With a superficial gloss

Hey, were you

Jealous of your father

Were you short

When you were fully grown

Did you like to walk on water

Were you scared

To be alone

I think perhaps tomorrow

I'll try to make a friend

To really get

To know him

Instead of pretend

I'll ask him if his feet hurt

Has he burdens to be shared

And if he doesn't walk away

I'll ask him

If he's scared

And if he doesn't walk away

If his eyes don't

Turn to stone

I'll ask him

If he's scared

To be alone

[ Scared To Be Alone Lyrics on ]

Left Hand Lost

Left Hand Lost

Here Dori Talks About How She Was Forced to Stop Being Right Handed and to Use Her Right Hand "Just like I was supposed to". I is wrenching, but yet she manages to get us all to laugh at these many loses that we have had.

Lyrics to Left Hand Lost :

the left hand is

we always say

the demon devil's side

the left had does

the dirty work

the shameful things

you hide

judas kissed the left cheek of christ

it's satan's special mark

there were no left-footed animals

allowed on noah's ark

left-handed people are impure

they go against the grain

left-handed children

play with themselves

and drive themselves insane

i was born left-handed

but the nuns where i went to school

they said it wasn't right so they

broke me of it

and now i'm right-handed

just like i'm supposed to be

and now

i'm fine

i'm just fine



but sometimes

i get so low so low


i get so depressed

as though i lost

a part of me that loved me

the part that knew me best

the child in me that cried

to be cherished

the side of me

that tried to be my friend

in the heart of me was living

and loving

but it perished

and i'll never be

completely me again

my right had fills the china teacups

and needlepoints with old maid aunts

my right hand clings to rosary beads

and waters dying plants

but it's never painted a picture

nor has it run for president

my left hand

might have done these things

if its roots

had not been bent

a sculptor

a poet

it might have been

instead of a useless thing

to decorate with bangles and bracelets

and my mother's wedding ring


it might have accomplished

or nothing

but now i'll never know


my lost

my left

my natural hand

my god

i miss you so

[ Left Hand Lost Lyrics on ]

"We Are All Children of Coincidence and Harpo Marx" The Ultimate Dory Previn Title

"We Are All Children of Coincidence and Harpo Marx" The Ultimate Dory Previn Title
"We Are All Children of Coincidence and Harpo Marx" The Ultimate Dory Previn Title

"Did Jesus Have a Baby Sister?"

I was a baby sister in the 50's. My parents were very avant garde about their own gender roles, (Dad cleaned and they had a business together) but it was the 50's. There were no sports for me, like my brother had among other things.

This song really touched me.

Lyrics to Did Jesus Have A Baby Sister? :

did jesus have a baby sister?

was she bitter?

was she sweet?

did she wind up in a convent?

did she end up on the street?

on the run?

on the stage?

did she dance?

did he have a sister?

a little baby sister?

did jesus have a sister?

did they give her a chance?

did he have a baby sister?

could she speak out

by and large?

or was she told by mother mary

ask your brother he's in charge

he's the chief

he's the whipped cream

on the cake

did he have a sister?

a little baby sister?

did jesus have a sister?

did they give her a break?

her brother's

birth announcement

was pretty big

pretty big

i guess

while she got precious

little notice

in the local press

her mother was the virgin

when she carried him

carried him


if the little girl came later


was she conceived in sin?

and in sorrow?

and in suffering?

and in shame?

did jesus have a sister?

what was her name?

did she long to be the saviour

saving everyone

she me?

and in private to her mirror

did she whisper




save your breath!

did he have a sister?

a little baby sister?

did jesus have a sister?

was she there at his death?

and did she cry for mary's comfort

as she watched him

on the cross?

and was mary too despairing

ask your brother

he's the boss

he's the chief

he's the man

he's the show

did he have a sister?

a little baby sister?

did jesus have a sister?

doesn't anyone know?

[ Did Jesus Have A Baby Sister? Lyrics on ]

"The Midget's Lament"

Dori Previn has an uncanny ability to sense what life is life for other people. This is a prime example.

Lyrics to The Midget's Lament :

i walk in

i ain't too dumb

i know i got some handicaps t'overcome

i mean y'seen one midget

y'seen 'em all

oh yeah midget

oh yeah small

and that's as far as you can see

is that the sum

and total substance of me?

midgets d-warfs chimps in a zoo

they all look alike to you

well listen good

'cause i don't lie

there's a whole lot more to me

than meets the eye

and it fills my little soul

with midget hate

the way that people will not learn

to differentiate

yeah sure midget

that's what you say

and that's as far as it goes

but have you ever said

that's a hungarian midget?

or that's a midget with

a wart on his nose?

have you ever taken the time to notice

a midget with curly hair

it isn't fair

there are skinny midgets

fat midgets

gay midgets flat midgets

there are midgets in deep despair

half a soul half a brain

half a heart

and twice the pain

sure they're cute

and they're a lot of fun

but would you want your sister

to marry one?

midget small

that's it and that's all

the classification it is made

midget runt

well now i gotta be blunt

i wish i was born

i wish i was born a spade

sure i would still be a midget

but i would have such

such beautiful coloration

and among my fellow midgets

i would be a sensation

talk about standing out

in the pack

i wish i was black

midgets d-warfs chimpanzees

ain't it all relative

when you're on your knees?

so don't tell me

don't tell me

about minorities

i wish to christ

i wish to christ

i was black

[ The Midget's Lament Lyrics on ]

Dory Previn Interviewed

From a Woman's Point of View "When a Man Wants a Woman"

"why is it

when a man wants a woman

he's called a hunter?

but when a woman wants a man

she's called a predator?"

Dory On Stage and Others Singing Dory

From a Man's Point of View: "Don't Put Him Down"

"oh babe

he loves you

but he just can't make it with you

and he just can't tell you it's true

how can he pass the test

when he just can't hardly move himself

let alone prove himself the best

oh babe

he wants you

but he just can't get it on as you planned

and i guess a girl just can't understand

how much a guy goes through

all she has to do is let herself

she doesn't have to get herself up

on cue

like a performing seal

in a zoo"

The Veteran's Big Parade

One more, this one had to be here. It's Dory's war song. You can find it on the Carnegie Hall Album.

Lyrics to The Veterans Big Parade :

In the veterans big parade

Marched the businessmen's brigade

While behind the high school band

The ladies fife and drum corps played

In the veterans big parade

The flag flew high and free

Down they marched to Fourth and Main

Our soldiers died but not in vain

God was with us

That's for sure

He proved it cause

It didn't rain

Balloons batons you wanted to cry

The best day in July

At the veterans cemetery

Then the services were said

There the Mayor's first assistant

Wiped his glasses

Put them on

And red

We're gathered here

Dear friends today

To show our brave boys

Where they lay

We are with them all the way

And I think it's safe to say

They are not


They are not


All the widows proudly smiled

(Except for one with an infant child)

Picnic time was then announced

And all the little kids went wild

Picnic blankets then were spread

And the beer flowed fast and free

There were clams and corn on the cob

To feed the celebrating mob

(Once in a while

I don't know why

The infant child

Began to sob)

Other than that is was New Year's Eve

Till it was time to leave

Then a fine Hawaiian band

Played and sang

Aloha oh

And their voices drifted low

Between the crosses

Painted white

Row on row on row

Aloha oh

And so goodbye

Till next year boys

Next July

We are with you

All the way

And I think

It's safe to say

You are not


You are not


You are not


[ The Veterans Big Parade Lyrics on ]

Vote on Your Favorite Dory Previn Album

Mary C. Brown/on My Way
Mary C. Brown/on My Way

1998 reissue on BGO of her first solo album for the UnitedArtists label, 1970's 'On My Way To Where' and Previn'sfourth for the label, 1972's 'Mary C. Brown And TheHollywood Sign'. Each has been digitally remastered from theoriginal master tapes. Also contains the original cover artof each and additional sleeve notes.

Live at Carnegie Hall
Live at Carnegie Hall

Reissued and Remastered with Stellar Sound.


I Wanted to Publish All of Her Lyrics

But that would make the longest lens in the history of lenses, and probably unreadable by most people.

So I chose the ones with videos and a couple of others that were essential to the story. But I beg you, for your own sake, get some of her music and listen to her sing these wonderful words. They aren't all available now, but track them down, get used vinyls. Just hear the music.

Any Purchase Here Will Contribute to Heifer International: The Pay It Forward Entrepreneurial Charity

I would love to hear what you would like to see in this lens.

Which Dory Previn Songs/Lyrics Touched You the Most?

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    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I first heard Lady with the Braid on the radio several years ago, it was a moment of feminine discovery ! Love Ms. Dory, can't believe she's 81. Also being Irish, I can understand some of her torturous beginnings.

    • profile image

      MobyD 7 years ago

      Wonderful lens! I remember the movie "The Sterile Cuckoo" and the song "Come Saturday Morning" although I hadn't thought about them in a very long time. Not surprising considering that part of my life didn't pan out very well in the end. I hadn't realized Dory Previn was the one who wrote the song.

      I like your idea of a concert series of lenses. I've done something similar with several Celtic music video showcases, although in some cases I later integrated the videos with the performers' lenses, but I still have a bunch of them around.

      Thanks for visiting my lenses while I've gone through revising so many of them. It's nice to know someone's been looking in.

    • mariaamoroso profile image

      irenemaria 7 years ago from Sweden

      Music has an enormous power in us. I am happy for you that you found what you needed when you needed it.

    • Christene-S profile image

      Christene-S 7 years ago

      I hadn't heard of Dory Previn until finding your lens. Thanks for introducing her. :)

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 8 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      ~squid angel blessings to you~

    • wyrm11268 profile image

      wyrm11268 8 years ago

      I love Dory Previn! Had just thought bet I don't find a lens on her, and here it is - Lyrics too. Thank you so much had fun watching the videos.

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 8 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      I commend you for doing a lens about this great artist. Love Dory!!! I kind of thought I was the only one who knew who she was since she never achieved commercial success really, but loved her the minute I heard her. Some of her songs still go through my head at times.

      One line I always loved was, "Talk to me in bed where it matters." Don't remember the name of the song. Anyway, 5**** and one of these days when I make a favorite musicians lens, this one will be on it. Thanks!!! "

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 9 years ago

      I love your lenses :)

    • chefkeem profile image

      Achim Thiemermann 9 years ago from Austin, Texas

      I feel humbled and honored by your dedication, Margo. In truth, it's your beautiful heart and perceptive mind that moved you to bring this incredible artist to our attention. Thank you so much for this lens! Especially the "Hollywood Sign" and the "Veteran's Big Parade" lyrics brought tears to my eyes. I bless you in deep gratitude for this page.