Some people in this world just have talent oozing out their ears. Everything they do turns to gold and people can’t get enough of them. I can’t get enough of Dolly Parton. Since I was a little girl, I knew she was special and recognized her voice on the radio. I could probably pick her voice out of an entire choir. Now for those of you, who are quick to judge, take a second to think about all she has accomplished. She’s been in the spotlight for decades, runs her own theme park, plays every instrument under the sun (with 3 inch long nails no less), sings, writes, records, arranges, acts, and can give a live performance that will knock you over.
I don’t think there is anything about Dolly that I don’t admire. I love the fact that when she was a little girl, she saw the town tramp and thought she was the most beautiful woman ever, so when she grew up she imitated that beauty. While some people condemn Dolly for her looks, they don’t consider that most women in the world do the same thing. I happen to think tall, slender brunettes are pretty, so I dye my hair, wear heels, and run 4 miles a day. We all do it to some extent.
I admire that she met her husband on her first trip to Nashville in a laundry mat and has been married to the same man for over 40 years. I love that she wrote the song “Jolene” after she met a beautiful little girl while signing autographs with that name. I love that she wrote the song “9 to 5” using her fingernails as her only instrument and accompaniment. She clacked the acrylic back and forth to keep the beat because it sounded like a typewriter, keeping in theme with the movie. I love that on the set of “Steel Magnolias” when every other person was complaining of the stifling, southern heat and humidity and asked Dolly why she wasn’t complaining as well, she replied, “I’m doing exactly what I’ve wanted to do my entire life. What would I have to complain about?”
As far as I’m concerned, no one compares to Dolly as a songwriter. Patty Loveless said, "No one can touch the hem of Dolly's dress." I’ve learned a lot from her writing: the story telling in “Coat of Many Colors,” and "These Old Bones," the clever word play in, “Shattered Image” and “The Grass is Blue,” the simplistic beauty of the melody “I Will Always Love You,” the honest emotion in “Backwoods Barbie” and “What a Heartache,” and her genuine personality shining through in “Tennessee Mountain Home.” Have I convinced you yet? She’s a genius!
A few months ago, my husband surprised me with front row tickets to her concert on the “Backwoods Barbie” tour. I was beside myself with anticipation. I spent an hour perfecting a poster board sign decorated in paint, glitter, marker, and stickers that read, “I LOVE YOU DOLLY!” I bought a long stem rose for her and attached a letter to it, planning to throw it to her on stage, however security collected it before the show but said they’d make sure Dolly received all her gifts. I waited eagerly in the front row for the show to begin and looked around the enormous auditorium. I was happy that it was so full of people. Dolly deserves to still be selling out shows.
Finally, the stage lights went wild, the music began, and the announcer announced the one, the only…DOLLY PARTON!!!! I screamed with joy as I saw her in person, only a few feet away from me, walk onto the stage. She was just like I always imagined. Beautiful, energetic, and smiling. You know those pathetic people on TV we make fun of who are crying when they see Elvis or Michael Jackson? Yep, that was me. I was so overcome with excitement and disbelief, I shed a few tears.
I couldn’t get enough of the performance. I was on my feet the entire time, mouthing every word along with her. I hoped she would look down at me and read my sign. I wished I had my rose to give to her. And then, in a moment when she looked around the entire auditorium at all her thousands of fans, her gaze landed on me. Our eyes met for a second and then she winked, pointed, and said, “I love you too, honey!”