Caroline Doctorow’s music has a way of transcending that feeling of place. For example, one of the songs from her new album Little Lovin’ Darling, produced by Pete Kennedy, is called “Cactus Flower” and its melodic vibe carries the listener through western-inspired themes. Some of the lyrics include: “Just to ride around with you, from the trailer bed, I can see the stars, coyote calls in the night sky, like the white dove, I wear wings, I don’t want this canyon road to ever end.” Her music evokes a feeling of western wanderlust, while also presenting folk-inspired ideas unique to a Long Islander. I chatted with Doctorow about the new album, her career and her folk/country-inspired approach to songwriting.
“I guess my sound is sort of a folk-Americana sound, rooted in the artists I was influenced by, the songwriters of the ’60s. Particularly for this record—Donovan. The record kind of has a split personality. It’s half-Donovan, half-Hank Williams,” Doctorow said.
“I’ve always been a sucker for Donovan. While listening to tracks off Little Lovin’ Darling with some friends, we found ourselves chatting about folk music and the music of the ’60s,” the very music Doctorow claims influences her. It’s almost like her latest album serves as a journey down the rabbit hole for ’60s and early ’70s musical discussion, while also serving as a modern reminder of the era of genuine songwriters.
“I’m very interested in songwriting. Maybe other people do crossword puzzles or play card games. I like pushing lyrics around on a page. I find that compelling, so that’s the muse I follow more than any other,” Doctorow said.
While that country connection is strong, there’s also a very heavy Long Island influence in Doctorow’s sound, like in “Big Duck Ramble”—“In the town of Flanders on a highway road, out on Route 24, there sits a famous sight to behold, I’m telling you now if you’ve never been told,” are some of the lyrics. “One of the things about this area and how it helps a working musician better than, for instance, New York City, is that this area has always been so welcoming and supportive of my work,” Doctorow noted.
Doctorow has been performing as part of the Montauk Summer Concert Series, and will perform at Dan’s Papers Annual Literary Prize ceremony at Guild Hall on August 26. “My music is lyric-based. The lyrics come first, the rhythm second. No matter where I am, if that’s the kind of room I’m playing, I’ll be happy,” Doctorow said. “I’m excited about the Dan’s Papers Literary Prize ceremony! This is maybe my eighth or ninth year playing the Summer Concert Series. Montauk is a great
Little Lovin’ Darling evokes a lot of feelings. I was curious where Doctorow wanted to take listeners with the new album. “My last album was a retrospective of folk icon Mary McCaslin, so I presented her songs and I just wanted to make a summer record, something upbeat. Because of the dial of my voice and because I love Donovan, that was the direction I was pulled in. He has a certain groove and is upbeat without being a total rocker,” Doctorow said. “Presenting the two different lyrical styles, Hank Williams and Donovan, was an interesting combination.”
Doctorow said, “We’re so lucky to live in a community packed with so many great musicians, where the people are supportive of the arts and institutions like Dan’s Papers and our local radio stations. The Hamptons became the Hamptons when painters settled here because of the quality of life. The way the sea meets the land; the landscape itself creates this beautiful soft light you really can’t find anywhere else on the planet. It’s a very supportive cocoon for us musicians. I’m so happy to live here with my family.”