Every now and then I like to take a moment to appreciate how amazing Dolly Parton is — and now is one of those moments. A local movie theater showed the Dolly classic The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas last week and will be showing 9 to 5 next week, so I’ve got me a little Dolly-on-the-brain. (And I’ve been humming “A Lil’ Ole Bitty Pissant Country Place” for five days now!)
Dolly turned 63 this Monday and, frankly, I’m amazed that she seems to have about a zillion times more energy than I do. (I’m considerably younger than she is and I’m not lugging breasts the size of cantaloupes around with me.) Consider what she’s accomplished in the past year alone:
Last February she released Backwoods Barbie, a mainstream country album designed to “Get Dolly Parton back on the radio!”
Then, after recovering from breast-related back problems, she spent most of the rest of the year touring in support of the album. (And she was phenomenal on the tour, let me tell you.) She did, however, take a break from touring for the opening of the 9 to 5 musical last fall.
Oh, did I mention that she wrote all of the songs for said musical? (I didn’t know that it was possible for Dolly to be more amazing — and then she began writing show tunes.)
And Dolly’s in the news again for yet another non-traditional musical adventure — a collaboration with Yusuf Islam (the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens) and Paul McCartney on a track for Islam’s new album. (It kind of sounds like the opening to a bad joke: Dolly Parton, Yusuf Islam and Paul McCartney walk into — someplace other than a bar because Yusuf Islam is a devout Muslim.)
Of course, as prolific and adventurous as Dolly is, she is still true to her roots — and those Smokey Mountain roots are steeped in bluegrass and gospel.
Appropriately, next month, Dolly Parton will be inducted into the Gospel Music Association Hall of Fame in recognition of her long history with gospel music. Not only did she collaborate with the late “King of Country Gospel” Porter Wagoner and release several solo gospel albums, Dolly has a habit of including gospel tracks on non-gospel albums.
In fact, the second single on Backwoods Barbie, “Jesus and Gravity” has been recognized for the strength of its gospel-ness:
In less capable hands, this song could be trite, however, Dolly’s strength and humility penetrate quite sincerely and she delivers a powerful performance that is worthy of a church revival … Dolly, once again, proves that she can hold her own as the front woman of a gospel choir.
So take a moment to congratulate Dolly and enjoy her in all her gospel glory, and watch her perform “Jesus and Gravity.”