When I originally linked to Dylan Farrow’s NYT letter I did a little digging, and was surprised to discover that in all the back and forth regarding this matter there seemed to be no discussion of the potential significance of Dory Previn’s song “With My Daddy in the Attic.” The lyrics, written sometime between 1968, when Andre Previn’s and Mia Farrow’s affair broke up the Previns’ marriage, and 1970, when Dory Previn released an album featuring the song (along with the better-known “Beware of Young Girls,” which is about the Farrow-Previn affair), describe an incest fantasy. The protagonists are a young girl and her father — who, like Woody Allen, plays the clarinet. The scene of the trysts is an attic.
In his response, Allen addresses this issue:
Even the venue where the fabricated molestation was supposed to have taken place was poorly chosen but interesting. Mia chose the attic of her country house, a place she should have realized I’d never go to because it is a tiny, cramped, enclosed spot where one can hardly stand up and I’m a major claustrophobe. The one or two times she asked me to come in there to look at something, I did, but quickly had to run out. Undoubtedly the attic idea came to her from the Dory Previn song, “With My Daddy in the Attic.” It was on the same record as the song Dory Previn had written about Mia’s betraying their friendship by insidiously stealing her husband, André, “Beware of Young Girls.” One must ask, did Dylan even write the letter or was it at least guided by her mother? Does the letter really benefit Dylan or does it simply advance her mother’s shabby agenda? That is to hurt me with a smear. There is even a lame attempt to do professional damage by trying to involve movie stars, which smells a lot more like Mia than Dylan.
Now of course the song is not a completely unambiguous piece of evidence for the proposition that Mia Farrow coached her daughter to confabulate a false accusation against Allen. A zealous prosecutor could, one supposes, argue that Allen got the idea for his purported crime from the song. But it’s easy enough to see why no charges were brought against Allen.
What seems clear is that a terrible crime was committed against Dylan Farrow when she was seven years old. What will remain unclear is what that crime actually was.
Update: Dylan Farrow’s response to Allen’s op-ed is reproduced here.
Also, all this reminds me of what Newt Gingrich, family man, had to say at the time regarding a family tragedy:
“I call this the Woody Allen plank,“ said Gingrich, a fierce Republican conservative, of the Democratic Party platform. “Watch the Woody Allen case and measure:
“Woody Allen is not having incest with his non-daughter for whom he has been a non-father because they have a non-family,“ Gingrich said. “It`s a weird situation and it fits the Democrat Party platform perfectly.“