Woody Allen has long argued that Mia Farrow coached their adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow, to lie that he assaulted her in an attic in August 1992. What’s less commonly known is that he accuses Mia Farrow of making up the details based on a deeply creepy 1970 song by Dory Previn.
Dory Previn and Mia Farrow crossed paths, painfully, when Dory Previn’s husband, composer Andre Previn, left her for Farrow. Previn and Farrow married in 1970, the same year Dory Previn released “With My Daddy in the Attic,” which appears to be about incest. It is on the same album as the song “Beware of Young Girls,” which was about Mia Farrow’s affair with her husband.
The New York Times wrote in Dory Previn’s 2012 obituary:
Mr. Previn had begun an affair with the actress Mia Farrow, then in her early 20s, whom he later married, and Ms. Previn, who had a history of emotional fragility and mental illness, fell apart. Fearful of traveling in general and of flying in particular, she had a breakdown on an airplane that was waiting to take off, shouted unintelligibly and tore at her clothes, and spent several months in a psychiatric hospital.
Mia Farrow left Andre Previn in 1979, the same year she met Allen.
Then the family ties became even more twisted. Allen, who had dated Mia Farrow for years, began an affair with Soon-Yi Previn sometime in the early 1990s. Allen contends that when Mia Farrow learned of the affair, she was so furious that she coached Dylan Farrow into lying about him. He said Mia Farrow turned to a Dory Previn she remembered well:
“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,’” he wrote in the New York Times in 2014.
Allen was responding to an account Dylan Farrow and written days before. She wrote:
When I was seven years old, Woody Allen took me by the hand and led me into a dim, closet-like attic on the second floor of our house. He told me to lay on my stomach and play with my brother’s electric train set. Then he sexually assaulted me. He talked to me while he did it, whispering that I was a good girl, that this was our secret, promising that we’d go to Paris and I’d be a star in his movies. I remember staring at that toy train, focusing on it as it traveled in its circle around the attic. To this day, I find it difficult to look at toy trains.
The lyrics to “With My Daddy in the Attack” include:
Daddy in the attic
That is where
My dark attraction lies
Madness on the nightstand
His loaded gun
In the terrifying nearness
Of his eyes
Window spying neighbours
Husbands in the future
Upon our attic
Bizarrely, the song references “daddy” playing clarinet — an instrument Allen also plays. There is nothing to suggest Dory Previn intended for the song to be about Allen, of course, since it was released in 1970, Allen and Mia Farrow didn’t meet until 1979, and he was first accused of assaulting Dylan Farrow in 1992.
But it’s weird.
Allen, who married Soon-Yi Previn in 1997, has said he believes Mia Farrow successfully coached Dylan Farrow: “Sadly, I’m sure Dylan truly believes what she says,” he said in a recent statement.
But Dylan Farrow said there’s no question of what happened.
“What I don’t understand is, how is this crazy story of me being brainwashed and coached more believable than what I’m saying about being sexually assaulted by my father?” she recently said in a CBS News interview.
There’s only one thing everyone can agree on: “With My Daddy in the Attic” is a very upsetting song.