Dolly Parton
Palm Desert Entertainer
February 7, 2007
Hello, Dolly! Real, Live (And Sold Out)
By Dale McKinney

Hello, Dolly! That right! The Grammy-winning, Academy Award-nominated country singer, songwriter, composer, author and actress is going to be right here, right on stage, right at Fantasy Springs Casino! Pound for pound, this 5'1” fireball is probably the greatest country singer America has ever produced - but in the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I've been a fan for years. So, you can imagine, I jumped at the chance to interview her for her upcoming concert (the Feb. 16 concert is now sold out).

Sure, like most of America I was charmed by her performance in 9 to 5,” and I loved her in “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” and who couldn't love her song “I Will Always Love You” - but I fell for her like a ton of bricks one night watching Johnny Carson. At one point, this outrageously busty gal with a Minnie Mouse voice and a Tennessee accent as thick as moonshine pulled out a six-string guitar and played the sweetest, simplest most nostalgic little country song I have ever heard. I started buying her albums ever since:

“Sittin' on the front porch on a summer afternoon
In a straightback chair on two legs, leans against the wall
Watch the kids a' playin' with June bugs on a string
And chase the glowin' fireflies when evenin' shadows fall”

When I spoke to her, I couldn't remember the name of the song and she just began singing for me. I was speechless. “Oh, that's ‘In My Tennesse Mountain Home,'” she says and then laughed, “Betchya didn't think you was going to get a song this early in the morning, didja?”

I suspect that's the key to Dolly's infectious charm. She looks like the cheapest, most artificial country bimbo, but she sings and writes priceless songs that speak simply, honestly to your heart. I've never had the joy of seeing her in concert, however, and this will be my chance.

I asked her what her concert would be like. Dolly speaks a mile-a-minute, but with a lyrical ease that just makes you want to take your shoes off and crack open a beer.

“Of course I'll try to be funny,” she says, “Of course, I'll be doing all the songs that people might expect, like ‘Coat of Many Colors,' ‘Jolene,' ‘I Will Always Love You,' all those ones that people expect me to do.”

Then she adds, speaking even faster than before, “But I'll be doing my own version of ‘Thank God I'm a Country Girl,' and I have a little guy who's go-ing to sing with me on some things-and I have some songs by Elvis, and I have an Elvis impersonator.

We have a few little fun things like that, but for the most part, it's just me being me [laughs] and me having a good time and hopin' it rubs off on everybody else.”

Dolly has long joked that although she originally modeled her look off the town tramp, “It costs a lot to look this cheap.” The image rewarded her with a lot of attention - some of it at her expense, but she always sailed through criticism. “I'm not offended by dumb blonde jokes because I know that I'm not dumb - also know I'm not blonde.”

Her family was initially appalled at her life choices, but over the years they easily realized they raised her right.

“I'm really not very religious,” she says, “but I am very spiritual. I deeply appreciate the way I was raised. My people gave me a very real relationship with God, and I'll always have that.”

Dolly's charity work for the Red Cross and AIDS programs are legendary - mainly because she doesn't talk about them much. Her theme park “Dollywood,” which brings in more tourists than Epcot Center (even though it's closed during the winter), has invigorated East Tennessee's economy - the country where she grew up.

“I owe my sense of what's right from my mamma,” she says softly. “You know she passed away a couple years ago.” I asked her if she still talks to her mom in heaven, and Dolly laughs a bit.

“Oh, welllll, not in any kind of morbid way,” she says. “Sometimes I'll be alone and walking through the house and look at myself in a mirror and I'll say ‘Oh God, Mamma! What are you doing here!'”

Dolly giggles a bit and then adds, “And I say things to my Dad. I don't make a ritual of it or nothing. I know when they're gone, they're gone to God. I think of them, love them, miss ‘em, and thank them for all the good stuff they left me.”

Dolly Parton is an American treasure, and no matter how tall her wigs become, we'll always recognize there's a bright brain beneath it, and no matter how grand her bust may be - her music and her life proves it will never be big enough to hold her phenomenal heart.

Source: Palm Desert Entertainer