Parton, Dolly (Rebecca)

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Parton, Dolly (Rebecca)

Parton, Dolly (Rebecca) , a larger-than-life-size figure (in more ways than one) on the American musical scene; b. Locust Ridge, Ternn., Jan. 19,1946. Dolly Parton is hardly the “aw-shucks,” country-bred, dumb blond personality that she often projects. A talented singer and songwriter, she has shown a unique ability to market herself and mold an image, while at the same time producing unique, personal music that continues the great traditions of previous generations of singer/songwriters.

The fourth of 12 children raised in poverty in rural Term., Dolly’s first recordings were made in 1959 for Goldband; in 1964, she traveled to Nashville, signing with Monument Records, and scoring her first hit with “Dumb Blond” in 1967. The same year, she joined forces with country legend Porter Wagoner, a savvy businessman who ran a large country revue. He recorded a string of duets with the younger singer, beginning with a cover of Tom Paxton’s “Last Thing on My Mind” that helped launch her career.

Dolly’s solo recordings from RCA in the late 1960s and early 1970s established her as a sensitive singer /songwriter who could reflect on her own rural heritage. In songs like 1971’s “Coat of Many Colors/’ she honored the memory of her mother who made her a patchwork coat out of fabric remnants. Many of her songs were based on childhood memories, presenting in a straightforward, unembarrassed way the often hard times that she endured as a child. In 1974, Parton permanently split from Wagoner, who was bitterly jealous of his younger rival’s talent and success, and her songs began to be covered by folk-rock artists from Linda Ronstadt (”I Will Always Love You,” later a 1992–93 #1 hit for pop singer Whitney Houston) and Maria Muldaur (”My Tennessee Mountain Home”). This encouraged Parton to attempt her own crossover recordings for the pop charts, beginning with the bouncy 1977 hit, “Here You Come Again.”

In 1980, Parton’s everywoman personality was perfectly exploited in the working class/feminist movie 9 to 5. This depiction of a group of secretary’s revenge on their domineering and sexist boss appealed to working women and helped cement Parton’s image as “just another gal.” Her title composition for the film was a pop and country hit. This success led to a decade of minor and major film roles, plus continued recordings in a pop-country vein. A longtime friendship with pop stars Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris resulted in the 1987 LP Trio, a rather subdued folk- country outing that produced a minor hit in their cover of Phil Spector’s “To Know Him Is to Love Him.” In 1989, in an attempt to return to her roots, she recorded a more country-oriented LP called White Limozeen produced by new country star Ricky Skaggs, an artistic if not a great chart success.

Parton also showed savvy as a businesswoman, opening her own theme park, Dollywood, to celebrate Term, mountain crafts and culture. This somewhat ersatz recreation of an idealized mountain life has proved to be quite successful, helping the economic revitaliza-tion of her childhood region and, not incidentally, also making a good deal of money for the singer.

In 1999, Parton was finally recognized by the country world by being elected into the Country Music Hall of Fame. That same year, she issued an album accompanied by a bluegrass band, working with new bluegrass star, Alison Krauss.

Dolly’s sister Stella (b. 1949) had some minor country hits in the mid-1970s, including 1975’s “Ode to Olivia,” in which she defended Olivia Newton-John against her country music critics.


Hello, I’m Dolly (1967); Just Because I’m a Woman (1968); In the Good Old Days (1969); My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy (1969); The Fairest of Them All (1970); As Long As I Love (1970); A Real Live Dolly (1970); Golden Streets of Glory (1971); Joshua (1971); Coat of Many Colors (1971); Touch Your Woman (1972); Just the Way I Am (1972); Dolly Parton Sings, My Favorite Songwriter, Porter Wagoner (1972); My Tennessee Mountain Home (1973); Bubbling Over (1973); Mine (1973); Jolene (1974); Love Is Like a Butterfly (1974); The Bargain Store (1975); Dolly: The Seeker We Used To (1975); All I Can Do (1976); New Harvest—First Gathering (1977); Here You Come Again (1977); Heartbreaker (1978); Great Balls of Fire (1979); Dolly, Dolly, Dolly (1980); 9 to 5 (And Odd Jobs) (1980); Heartbreak Express (1982); The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (soundtrack; 1982); Burlap and Satin (1983); The Great Pretender (1984); Rhinestone (soundtrack; 1984); Once upon a Christmas Dolly Parton/Kenny Rogers (1984); Real Love (1985); Think about Love (1986); Rainbow (1987); White Limozeen (1989); Home for Christmas (1990); Eagle When She Flies (1991); Straight Talk (soundtrack; 1992); Slow Dancing with whe Moon (1993); Heartsongs: Live from Home (1994); Something Special (1995); Treasures (1996); Hungry Again (1998); The Grass Is Blue (1999). Porter Wagoner: Just Between You and Me (1968); Just the Two of Us (1968); Always, Always (1969); Porter Wayne and Dolly Rebecca (1970); Once More (1970); Two of a Kind (1971); Together Always (1972); We Found It (1973); Love and Music (1973); Porter ’n Dolly (1974); Say Forever You’ll Be Mine (1975). Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstandt: Trio (1987); Trio II (1999). Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette: Honky Tonk Angels (1994).

—Richard Carlin