It’s a big political year in
the U.S., and after the Democratic Convention this summer, I’ll be stumping
for either Hillary or Obama. But in the meantime, I’m stumping for somebody
else — Dolly Parton. Now, Dolly is not running for President
— or any political office, for that matter — but she does have a campaign
to get back on country radio, and she needs our support.
Dolly’s certainly doing her
part. After 10 years with no major label support, she decided to release a mainstream country album, Backwoods Barbie, on her own label, Dolly Records. As
she put it, “I’m looking at it like an investment. I thought, ‘I’ve
made enough money. I can afford to invest a little in myself.”
She’s doing plenty of press,
and she’ll be a mentor on American Idol
next week! She’ll be performing a song from her new album — I suspect
it will be the first single, “Better Get to Livin’,” rather than
the second single, “Jesus and Gravity” — and the contestants will
perform Dolly Parton classics. This could be scary, but it will give
her plenty of exposure and likely drive album sales.
If you haven’t seen it, check
out the video for “Better Get to Livin’,” featuring Amy Sedaris.
And I’m trying to do my part
as well. I bought the album immediately upon release, thereby helping
it to reach No. 2 on Billboard during its second week. I’m going
to see her in concert next month. Yay! And I’m making my non-country-loving
girlfriend listen to the album, too. And she’s enjoying it! Although
part of what she’s enjoying is watching me dance around the house singing:
I’m just a backwoods Barbie,
too much makeup, too much hair.
Don’t be fooled by thinkin’ that the goods are not all there.
Don’t let these false eyelashes lead you to believe that
I’m as shallow as I look, ’cause I run true and deep.
But her stated goal is not
just album sales, it’s country radio — which dropped her like a hot
potato in the ’90s. When she lost mainstream support, the ever-resourceful
Dolly adapted and shifted to roots music, releasing a trilogy of “bluegrass”
albums (I put bluegrass in quotes because the third album included
a cover of “Stairway to Heaven”) followed by a cover album, Those
Were the Days. They were all fantastic albums, but none got airplay
on stations busy playing Faith Hill, Carrie Underwood and Kellie Pickler. So, now
it’s time to return a little classic country style to mainstream country
If you’d like to request Dolly
on your local country radio station (in the United States) but you don’t
know how to contact them, another set of artists who cannot get much
play on country radio (remember the Dixie Chicks?) have already
done the work for you. They published a comprehensive list
of country radio stations
on their website when they released Taking the Long Way a couple
of years ago. If there was a country radio in New York City, I’d be
calling. But there’s not. Alas. So, I’ll tell other people to call.
Heed Dolly’s cry and “Get
Dolly Parton back on the radio!”