Dolly Parton’s America
You know who’s amazing? Just a straight up aces, stellar example of humanity? A living gotdamn legend? Dolly freaking Parton. I know it. You know it. The whole world knows it. She is rightfully beloved by men and women of all ages. Drag queens, conservatives, feminists, animals, even houseplants. Is your fiddle leaf fern looking a little frail? Play them the totality of her bluegrass album Little Sparrow and her piercing, crystalline voice will reach all the way down to your plant friend’s roots and lift it up. Her lyrics will rejuvenate and revitalize it. Her music is truly a balm for the weary soul.
I’ve known that for years and I don’t even like country music. You don’t have to be a country fan to love Miss Dolly. You just have to exist in the world. Whether you’re into her music or her star turns in movies like 9 to 5, Steel Magnolias, or The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. I can almost guarantee that she’s been a part of your life.
I knew all of this and yet I took Miss Dolly for granted. I didn’t take the time to fully learn her history or worship at her feet. Luckily there’s a new podcast that allows us all to do just that. It’s called Dolly Parton’s America and you should give it a listen immediately.
It’s a 9 part series that takes the time to examine Dolly’s life. From growing up dirt poor in the Great Smoky Mountains to her rise to fame in Nashville and her subsequent world domination this podcast looks at the way her career and life have become a very real part of American culture and gives Dolly a hell of a lot of credit for things that most people don’t realize about her. Did you know she plays 21 instruments including the damn pan flute? You likely know that she wrote I Will Always Love You, but did you know that she wrote it to escape from a toxic working partnership with Porter Wagoner? That Wagoner sued her for a million dollars and even after all of that she used money she made off that very song to buy back the company Wagoner lost and give it to his children after he died?
It’s fascinating stuff and the host is lucky enough to have lengthy interviews with Dolly herself to discuss her musical legacy. Unsurprisingly, Dolly is charming as all get out. Equal parts cracking wise and being wise. She’s open and honest and self deprecating about her place in the American songbook. And lord, her stories! You can just lose yourself listening to her talk and break into songs that she grew up loving. Dolly Parton is a national treasure who also makes you feel all warm and fuzzy and seen. Do yourselves a favor and download Dolly Parton’s America as soon as possible. She will entertain and affirm you and lift you up like the tired leaves of a fiddle head fern and we all deserve a little joy in our lives.