When the world was dark and all seemed lost there was one person we could rely on to bring some light, some joy, some sparkle, even a potential cure for coronavirus and that was Saint Dolly Parton. Some have called for her to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, others requested the vaccine she helped to fund be named after her (or Jolene). It’s Dolly’s world and we’re all just blessed to be living at the same time as this beacon of hope for humanity. Continue reading “Book Review: Dolly Parton – ‘Songteller – My Life in Lyrics’”
Some artists set trends, others chase them and a few may be around long enough to do both. You can’t help but admire those, like Dolly, who refuse to exploit old glories or just fade away and have continually tried to stay relevant to the zeitgeist, no matter how difficult or desperate or futile the attempt.
White Limozeen and Eagle When She Flies were both hit albums because they combined classic country, a little of her eighties pop pizzazz and just enough of current country trends to return her successfully to the top of the charts. Slow Dancing With the Moon was a more calculated attempt at fully embracing the nineties pop country sound – line dancing and Billy Ray Cyrus included – ironically with more middling commercial results. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – Slow Dancing With the Moon (1993)”
The nineties would turn out to be a decade where Dolly achieved huge success on the pop charts, albeit thanks to Whitney Houston. A year before that Bodyguard soundtrack took over the world, Dolly released her 31st solo album Eagle When She Flies which was another strong collection of country songs, after her welcome return to the genre on the Trio project and previous album White Limozeen. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – Eagle When She Flies (1991)”
After years of flailing and failing to crossover to pop, 1989 was the year Dolly decided to make her return to country music proper, with triumphant results. White Limozeen, produced by Ricky Skaggs, proved that Dolly’s strength as an artist is in how she adds a little pop to country – not the other way around. On the cover Dolly is all glitz, glamour and rhinestones still but the spelling of this album title is a deliberate nod to her simpler roots. Her fans responded with enthusiasm – the album generating two number one singles and resurrecting her critical and commercial career. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – White Limozeen (1989)”
As I’ve been reviewing Dolly Parton’s discography the book ‘Not Dumb, Not Blonde: Dolly in Conversation’ which contains interviews spanning across her whole career, has become a valuable resource and reference point in helping me understand both her astonishing career and the psychology of what made her a legend.
Across these series of conversations one unlikely theme recurs often: depression. People may have the misconception that everything is butterflies, rainbows and rhinestones in Dolly’s world but that is simply not the case. In fact her insights and advice on dealing with dark moods and motivating yourself after failures are as inspiring as her songs. Continue reading “Dolly Parton on Depression”
Rainbow was the first of Dolly’s albums for her new record label Columbia, after her nearly two decade long relationship with RCA ended. When signing with CBS she reportedly envisioned rotating the style of her albums, with one pure pop followed by one pure country. The problem with that plan was exposed almost immediately. Rainbow was Dolly’s lowest charting album for nearly fifteen years and the Trio album with Emmylou and Linda (also released this year) was her most successful in a decade. The public had spoken: they wanted Dolly back singing country music. At age 41 her pop dream was dead. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – Rainbow (1987)”
“I’m commericalminded. If I can’t get my own hit, I’m not too proud to hang on somebody else’s coattails,’ said Dolly in a revealing interview she conducted in the mid-90s. Therefore working with platinum king Kenny Rogers, who she called ‘a magical man’ was a no-brainer. Together they would have a pop smash with Islands in the Stream, a successful Christmas album released in 1984, and a country chart topper with the title track of this 1985 album. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – Real Love (1985)”
The appeal of Dolly Parton’s image has always been in how the ‘false’ make-up, wigs, gaudy outfits and cosmetic enhancements contrast with her country roots and the vulnerable truths in her music. ‘The Great Pretender’ is what she set out to be as a poor kid playing dress up, writing songs and hoping to become a star. By 1984 she’d successfully created her legendary persona and was a household name. Her musical output in the eighties was wildly inconsistent at best, with dwindling returns from the heady heights of 9 to 5. This album would prove to be a low of her recording career, filled with forgettable cover versions of songs from the fifties and sixties that offered little of what had got her here in the first place. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – The Great Pretender (1984)”
1983 was a year that brought Dolly more crossover chart success thanks to her duet Islands in the Stream with Kenny Rogers. Her 25th solo album released in the same year, Burlap and Satin, in comparison did not contain any real classic or memorable hit songs. The title is an acknowledgement that there will always be two contrasting aspects to her music – and how best to balance pop and country is something she is obviously still struggling to reconcile at this point. This album reached number 5 in the country charts, a disappointment for her, although it did result in a Grammy nomination. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography: Burlap and Satin (1983)”