Maybe it was the inner prude in me, but when Dolly Parton first hit the national scene, I was somewhat bothered by the fact that she was better known for her ample bosoms than her enormous talent. Still, she seemed to be in on the joke, becoming so successful that she has a theme park – Dollywood – in her name.
What I liked, besides her singing and songwriting, was a good heart. This recent interview in Parade magazine expresses this well. She grew up dirt poor in rural Tennessee, and now raises money and awareness for several causes, especially education. In May 2016, Dolly Parton will be married 50 years to Carl Thomas Dean, a man as shy as she seems ingratiating.
Interesting that her first country single was called “Dumb Blonde,” one of the few songs from that era she did NOT write, appropriate because she is not. In 1974, “Elvis Presley indicated that he wanted to cover the song. Parton was interested until Presley’s wily manager, Colonel Tom Parker, told her that it was standard procedure for the songwriter to sign over half of the publishing rights to any song recorded by Presley. Parton refused. That decision has been credited with helping to make her many millions of dollars in royalties from the song over the years.”
Dolly Parton received the Kennedy Center Honors in 2006. You can read about her extensive musical history on her Wikipedia page.
The music links
The Last Thing on My Mind, a duet with Porter Wagoner; she was a regular on his weekly syndicated TV program, and this Tom Paxton cover went to #8 in the country charts.
In the Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad), later a standard, but reached only #25 on the country charts in 1968.
Mule Skinner Blues. Her first country Top 5 without Wagoner, getting to #3 for two weeks in 1970.
Joshua. Her first country #1, in 1971. Even got to 108 on the pop charts.
Jolene, #1 country, #60 pop, #219 in Rolling Stone magazine’s top 500 songs.
I Will Always Love You. #1 country in 1974. Written about her professional break from Wagoner. I believe this has been covered.
Here You Come Again, #1 country for five weeks, and notably, #3 for two weeks on the pop charts.
Travelin’ Prayer. A Billy Joel cover from a Dolly album I own.
There are plenty of other choices, as she has over 100 charted songs. These include including duets with several partners, most notably Kenny Rogers.