Dolly Parton’s Discography: Precious Memories (1999)

In her memoir ‘Pilgrimage to Dollywood’ writer Helen Morales sums up the appeal of Dolly’s theme park concluding that it ‘has taken elements of America and distilled them into their essences: God, family, patriotic pride, country, nature, memory and optimism.’* Here we also find a perfect list to sum up the values of Dolly herself which have allowed her to maintain a strong core fan base in America’s rural and conservative heartlands despite her concurrent foray into glitz, glamour, Hollywood, pop music, cosmetic augmentation and progressive causes.

And so this album Precious Memories is one designed for her heartland base and in fact could only be purchased at Dollywood itself, with all proceeds going to the Dollywood foundation (it can be heard on YouTube for those who have not made the trek to Tennessee). Consisting of spirituals the album follows The Golden Streets of Glory as her second full gospel collection. Musically the production has a similar traditional tone to her bluegrass trilogy, which she would record immediately following this album. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography: Precious Memories (1999)”

Dolly Parton’s Discography – The Grass is Blue (1999)

‘I had to get rich so I could sing like I was poor,’ Dolly famously joked about ‘The Grass is Blue’ released in 1999. While Dolly had the mountains in her veins and her voice from the start, there was always a sprinkling of razzle dazzle pop rhinestones on her country banjo. Traditional bluegrass may have influenced her songwriting but this would be her first full length embrace of the genre, earning a Grammy for ‘Best Bluegrass Album’. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – The Grass is Blue (1999)”

Dolly Parton’s Discography: Hungry Again (1998)

In his recent book about David Hockney, critic Martin Gayford described the artist as someone who ‘keeps doing the same thing, continually fired by the urge to do it differently and better…he is teaching us a lesson not only in how to see, but how to live.’ Dolly Parton has lived her life in the exact same way. Great art is found in the consistent creativity of hard work.

On first listen Hungry Again might sound like a retread of some of Dolly’s earlier ideas but connecting to her past is part of what has made her an icon. As she writes ‘Sometimes to know just how far you’ve traveled, you’ve got to go back to where you began’. The songs were written over a three month period spent between her lake house and childhood home, resulting in Dolly’s first album of entirely solo penned material in decades. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography: Hungry Again (1998)”

Dolly Parton’s Discography – Treasures (1996)

Why can’t we love one another? Why can’t we ride on the peace train?

Dolly Parton is often described as being an apolitical figure, one who refuses to speak out on controversial issues or align herself to a political party. However like many other cultural and spiritual icons before her, throughout her career Dolly has been a subtle but significant force for progressive change.

You could argue that it is exactly because Dolly has risen above the party political divide that she has been able to so successfully use her voice to support causes like literacy, women’s rights, LGBT rights, rural poverty and more recently healthcare and vaccine research.

Dolly’s message in her music and her life is one of peace and harmony, seen clearly on this diverse and inclusive 1996 covers album Treasures. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography – Treasures (1996)”

Dolly Parton’s Discography: Something Special (1995)

Something Special is a short album of ten songs, including three re-recorded versions of Dolly’s biggest hits. There’s no attempt to court the modern country charts or push her sound into any new directions. Instead we have some nice, middle of the road piano ballads and gentle vocal performances which tell us that at this stage in her career Dolly was content to embrace her middle age. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography: Something Special (1995)”

Dolly Parton’s Discography: Home For Christmas (1990)

Dolly released her third Christmas album last year to great success, even if the pandemic year was not the most opportune timing for an album full of Yuletide cheer. Her first Christmas album was Once Upon a Christmas – a fun collaboration with Kenny Rogers released in 1984. Home for Christmas released in 1990 is composed of Christmas standards, rather than the originals which made up half of her album with Kenny. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography: Home For Christmas (1990)”

Dolly Parton’s Discography: A Holly Dolly Christmas (2020)

In her 1982 song ‘Hard Candy Christmas’ Dolly sang of enduring a difficult time where she was ‘barely getting through’. That song with its message about not letting sorrow get you down feels like the realistic Christmas anthem we need for 2020.

In contrast A Holly Dolly Christmas, Dolly’s third Christmas album, is free from any hints of the pain and strife we’ve all endured this year. It’s a red bow and a sparkling smile, throwing glitter and sparkles at you throughout. Forget your troubles, come on be happy. Dolly’s current incarnation is a fairy godmother of joy, with not even a moment of despair allowed to darken the delights, even though she made her name on songs which cut to the heart of the bittersweet pain of real life. Continue reading “Dolly Parton’s Discography: A Holly Dolly Christmas (2020)”

Book Review: Dolly Parton – ‘Songteller – My Life in Lyrics’

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’”

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