Dolly Parton
Mountain Press
April 8, 2002
Dolly finds ways to persevere
By Pat Dorwin

PIGEON FORGE - When the world changed Sept. 11, Dolly Parton was deep in the dark Wears Valley woods.

Her thoughts were about to turn dark as well after the terrorist attacks.

Parton was in Wears Valley filming scenes for the Smoky Mountain Wilderness Adventure motion-ride, a new attraction at Dollywood.

"We were going crazy trying to find out information," Parton said.

Life has moved on, but the events moved Parton.

"It's changed me a great deal, like it has everybody else," she said.  "As a matter of fact, some of the songs in the new CD ("Halos and Horns," due out in July) are kind of about that kind of thing.  There's one song on there that's really special to me.  It's called 'Hello, God.'  It's a song I wrote right after Sept. 11th.

"It's like, 'Hello, God, are you out there?  Can you hear us?  Are you listening any more?  Are we still on speaking terms?  Can you help us?'...Several of the pieces on the album were really my feelings and my thoughts."

Parton will perform in Minneapolis May 17 to help children of victims in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks further their education.

"We were going to do the 'Red, White and Bluegrass'" show in Nashville on New Year's Eve as a benefit for the scholarship program, Parton said.

That benefit was postponed.

Parton said she and her newly formed band, The Blueniques, will probably do some sort of benefit while on tour July 4 and Sept. 11 as well.  Parton said she hasn't toured or had a band for 10 years.

The high-energy entertainer should be able to handle the rigors of touring.  After all, she just pulled off her parade in Pigeon Forge and the grand opening for Dollywood's 17th season.

"You actually have to drink a lot of coffee and get enough sleep, but it's been fun," Parton said Friday between satellite television interviews during Media Day activities at Dollywood.  "I think I just live on raw energy and the adrenalin keeps me high because every time I do this it's very exciting and fun and we love it."

It was late in the afternoon, but Parton would hopefully get some down time before her Pigeon Forge parade.

"I've got about an hour-and-a-half to have supper and relax," Parton said.  "Actually, the night ends early for me because as soon as the parade's over I'll make it an early night.

"That's when I'll relax.  Then I can come back and tear down, take all the fancy clothes off and all the hair and the makeup and just sit up in bed and watch TV and eat like a pig."

Parton has been busy with television and film projects.

"I have several things for TV.  I'm still working on the Mae West story, which is real close to being ready to be done," she said.  "There is a movie coming out next month, it's a crazy teen-age comedy move.  I play the mother of the star."

Parton's last two CDs have been fawned over by critics.

"I'm just proud to have been part of country music all my life," Parton said.  "I don't begrudge any of the new people that are successes.  I'm still out there loving and doing my own records now...It's beginning to take on a whole new life of its own."

Parton's not planning a run for governor of Tennessee, as has been widely rumored, but she'd have no problems speaking to Congress about the importance of her Imagination Library program to promote literacy.

"Absolutely, I can see myself doing that," Parton said.  "I don't want to run for governor, but I can definitely see myself being political about issues I love and want to do.  I may very well do that."

That doesn't mean she thinks her poke-fun-at-herself image is changing.

"No, I don't.  The kids call me 'The Book Lady,' but I still look like the same trash I always did," Parton says with a laugh.  "I don't guess I'm ever going to change that.  They seem to like me like as I am, so I don't see no reason to try and change it if it's working, do you?"