Sunday night Dolly Parton

January 24, 2010

I don’t know when it was that Dolly Parton became a kind of caricature, but there was a time when she was simply a wonderfully talented country music singer.  Even now there is something endearing about her, with her big smile, squeaking laugh, and high spirits, and those charming qualities were even more evident without the overblown wigs, pasty make-up, and other distractions. She has always had a attractively bright and agile voice.

My favourite of her songs is “Coat of Many Colors”; for some reason I have been listening to it repeatedly this week, and thought I’d post it here in consequence.  This footage is evidently quite old — I’d guess late 1970s, but I can’t be sure.  Equally evidently, it was taped from a more recent television programme, and includes one of those annoying voice-overs that interferes with the beginning and the end of the song.  There is also an irritating banner at the bottom that pops up with trivia as the song progresses.  But none of that, however idiotic, can destroy a good song:

There is also a good version of the song sung by Emmylou Harris, vintage 1977, that can be seen here.  (What a voice!)  A surprisingly decent “Oprahfied” version is here, with Dolly in duet with Shania Twain.

(Incidentally, my wife saw Ms. Twain a few weeks ago at our local grocery store.  The fellows working behind the deli counter were apparently all in a tizzy.  I can’t be sure I’d have kept my head on straight either.)

9 Responses to “Sunday night Dolly Parton”

  1. Janet Says:

    Good stuff, Craig. You know, I love Emmylou Harris and I would have thought that I would like her version better, but I don’t think I could choose between them. They are both great in their own way.


  2. Christina A. Says:

    There was a very nice, though short, piece in Chatelaine magazine – Feb 2010 – on Dolly Parton. Unfortunately, I can’t find a weblink to the article, but you and your readers might like to look for it.

    My tip would be to just check out a copy at Indigo/Chapters or the grocery store line-up. The piece was toward the back of the issue.

  3. cburrell Says:

    If I’m at an Indigo store in the next few weeks I’ll look for it, Christina. Good old Dolly.

    I love Emmylou too, Janet, but I agree with you that her version is not as good as Dolly’s. She brings a touch of melancholy to it, but the song doesn’t really call for melancholy.

  4. I think of Dolly as a great talent sadly wasted for the most part. This song is great, and I suppose there are probably some real gems buried in her albums.

  5. Rufus McCain Says:

    Lovely. Those nails are astonishing, too. It’s amazing she could chord with the long ones on her left hand.

  6. cburrell Says:

    I was wondering if somebody would notice those nails!

  7. kathleen curtin Says:

    Thanks for the post. It is a great song, but Dolly hasn’t let the grass grow under her feet and hasn’t wasted her talent. Just see her more recent blue grass and country albums album, Grass is Blue, Halos and horns, Live and well concerts. As recently as two years ago, she toured on her successful Backwards Barbie Album. That album and those concerts were acclaimed critically as well as commercial successes. She toured across Europe, a great tour and a sell out and she is makeing a new tour in 2011 as well as a new album. She has never forgotten her music and at her age to stand up and perform in front of live audiences with style is something. She has written over 3000 songs and is still writing.The iconic image has never eroded respect of her voice and talent. See the Live from London dvd which included many new songs.

  8. cburrell Says:

    I agree that she’s a real talent, who has had a long and very fine career. The elements of caricature are unfortunate, and I’d rather be without them. I haven’t heard many of her recent records, though I did hear The Grass is Blue and enjoyed it. Thank you for your comment, and for the recommendations.

    • kc Says:

      Hello again and thanks for the reply. The caricature is something she has developed and it served her well from the beginning right back to the Porter Wagner shows 1960s. It’s part of who she is. Her honesty, wisdom and intelligence come across in all interviews,eg with Larry King etc as recently as this year. She is also recognised for her huge contribution to charities and above all her imagination library for children’s literacy. This takes a huge amount of time and energy as well as millions of dollars. She has very strong faith and her gospel songs are really wonderful,egs Jesus and Gravity (newer), Sacred Memories, I am a Seeker (older). With her theme park, she is the biggest employer in East Tennessee.She has also protected her family and kept her private life very private. People only know the public image. Despite all that, she has managed to write 3000 songs, be a multi instruementalist and help out many other artists. The older entertainers such as Emmy Lou Harris or the younger such as Keith Urban value her voice and talent and say she is an inspiration to work with. Unlike others, she has taken care of her voce and health, never smoked or done drugs, drinks little or nothing. Sorry for my long comment and no need to reply. It’s just that what counts is doing things with our heart. Good luck to you and I may not get back to this site again, but I wish you well in all you do.

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