Dolly Parton’s Discography – Backwoods Barbie (2007)

The opening song on this 2007 album ‘Backwoods Barbie’ is a perfect distillation of the appeal of Dolly Parton as a cultural icon. ‘Better Get to Livin’ offers up some insight into how she keeps her positive attitude and offers some advice for others, all within one of the catchiest and most infectious melodies in her catalogue.

Dolly’s mantra is that we all better start ‘livin, givin, forgivin and ‘lovin’ on the way’. But there’s also a steely core to her lyrics – she doesn’t want to hear your ‘whining’ or ‘pining’, instead she believes that healing comes from a positive mental attitude. We must all ‘shine, design, refine’ to bring our dreams to life. Self-improvement becomes more than some platitude, it is exactly how Dolly has risen to the top and stayed there.

‘Don’t waste one minute of your life,’ she reminds us as the song draws to a close where she has recast herself as the best minister, motivational speaker, life coach, therapist you’ll ever have in your life.

The concept of this album was an attempt to reclaim the Barbie image which was often used to mock or deride her, but Backwoods Barbie works because these songs sum up everything which has been part of her appeal across her whole career.

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Album Review: S.G. Goodman – Teeth Marks

S.G. Goodman was born and raised in Kentucky, a place which burns through her voice and her words. But her music isn’t of the mountains and the wide open countryside, it’s in the grime of these places, the claustrophobia, the endless emptiness of the void. Emotional pain and destruction thrives in these darkened backwaters, quiet hope trying to find a way to appear among the rolling clouds.

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How to Solve The Ticketmaster Problem

News broke this week that some Taylor Swift fans are actually suing Ticketmaster after their recent ticket buying trauma.

Some of the problems which occurred on that day have been brewing for a long time: buying tickets now involves navigating a confusing and complex system of presale codes and ticket sale opportunities, all of which allow bots to buy tickets and resell them for inflated prices. It’s wrong and it has to be stopped.

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On Carrie Underwood’s Problematic ‘Find Your Path’

Earlier this year I ordered country music star Carrie Underwood’s book ‘Find Your Path’, which was marketed as a wellness and lifestyle guide. On the cover she is standing in a meadow, smiling in the sunshine, holding a flower, wearing white and looking like an angel come to inspire us all to live a happier and healthier life.

Inside we have more pretty pictures of her beautiful husband and children. So far, so aspirational.

However when I read the introduction sentence, the alarm bells started ringing immediately. She begins this book with the admission:

‘Sometimes I go a whole day without sitting down once.’

Okay, that doesn’t sound good to me. Not good at all.

The advice only gets more concerning from this point onwards. ‘Find Your Path’ reads like a brutal lesson in how the music industry (or fame itself) sends people to extreme perfectionism just in order to survive.

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The Trouble With Twitter

Recently when contemplating some issues around social media, and Twitter in particular, I was reminded of an old episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In the episode ‘Earshot’, Buffy is infected by a demon and wakes up with the ability to hear the thoughts of everyone she meets. At first her new power is exhilarating and exciting, a way to gain knowledge and insight. Soon, however, the gift becomes a curse. She can’t block out the constant noise of everyone’s internal chatter and eventually the horror, suffering, pain and violence inside other people’s heads overwhelms her. She ends up bedridden, unable to function, hovering on the edge of insanity.

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Book Review: ‘Maybe We’ll Make It’ by Margo Price

Margo Price’s debut album ‘Mid-West Farmer’s Daughter’ told the story of a harrowing, hard-fought struggle to make it in the music industry, exploring grief, marriage, poverty, addiction, prison and the desperation of depression.

That story is recounted in her stunning new memoir ‘Maybe We’ll Make It’, an unflinching and unapologetic manifesto of personal and artistic freedom.

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Dolly Parton’s Discography – Those Were the Days (2005)

Released a couple of years after the abomination that is ‘For God and Country’ this was Dolly back on safer territory, with a cover album of country and pop songs from the 60s and 70s. The musical style was back to the bluegrass sound which had been so successful and features many guest artists including Norah Jones, Lee Ann Womack, Kris Kristofferson, Alison Krauss, and even the return of her old friend Mr Porter Wagoner.

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Album Review: First Aid Kit – Palomino

We last heard First Aid Kit in ‘Ruins’ an album full of heartbreak songs that weighed so heavily on the band they ended their last touring schedule completely burnt out. After a much needed break they’re back with ‘Palomino’, recorded during the pandemic and produced by Daniel Bengston with some songwriting assistance from Bjorn Yttling. The horse of the title is a symbol of strength and freedom, signalling that the positive changes in their recent personal lives will be reflected in the new music (much like the other album of the same name released this year).

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