Dolly Parton
Backwoods Barbie Q&A
September 5, 2007

Congrats on “Better Get To Livin’,” the kind of uplifting anthem everyone needs more than ever. What inspired you to write it? Any particular events trigger the song?

“I co-wrote this song with my co-producer, band leader and guitarist Kent Wells. Kent is the one who said that I should write a song about my attitude as so many people are always asking what my secret to success and happiness is. So I thought “that is a good idea” and I flew right into it. Kent kept feeding me ideas and threw in a line here-and-there. This is what came out of that. We had a lot of fun writing it.”

The song examines the pressures of life with these lyrics (see below). Do you have any overall thoughts about how modern life is becoming more of a pressure-cooker?

“Your life’s a wreck, your house is a mess,
And your wardrobe’s way outdated.
All your plans just keep on fallin’ thru.
Overweight and underpaid, under appreciated,
I’m no guru but I’ll tell you this I know is true”

“I think life has always been a pressure cooker. People react to whatever pressures they’re under at the time according to their tolerance level and their mental attitude. Certainly with so much attention today on being skinny and beautiful, rich and famous, equal pay for equal work, getting ahead, raising kids, holding down a job, getting older, etc., well I think this song says some things to let people know they’re not the only ones in that fix. And this song offers some advice for a way out.”

The song also poignantly encompasses forgiveness and gratitude and optimism for the future. Might we ask: at what point in your life did you personally “get to livin’?”

“Believe me when I tell you my life is not perfect. I work hard. I fall down, I get up and I keep going. I pray a lot. I not only believe that tomorrow will be better, but that the next minute or the next hour will be better. You have to find the good in everything and in everybody, and believe that it is all for a reason. So set out to find the reason and purpose in everything, even if it seems to be awful at the time. I’ve always had a good attitude. I wake up every day expecting things to be good. And if they’re not, then I set out about trying to get it fixed. I try to live every day like it might be my last. I don’t want to have to wake up, face God and say, ‘Well, duh, I should have tried.’”

Backwoods Barbie is a brilliant title for the album! What does it mean to you?

“The song ‘Backwoods Barbie’ pretty much says it all. I grew up poor and ragged, always dreamed of being beautiful like Barbie and the models in the Fredericks catalog. It’s true that the way I look is just a country girl’s idea of glamour. I’ve always been a bit of a cartoon character, but that comes from an honest place. I’m always getting too dolled up. My real name is Dolly, so I’m just a backwoods Dolly asking for a chance. Backwoods Barbie just seemed like such a perfect title for a country album for me. Don’t you agree?”

This marks your first mainstream country album in many, many years. What inspired you to take this direction?

“When new country came along several years back, most artists my age got shoved off to the side, no matter how talented they might still be. I tried a few country albums after that, but to no avail and no chart play. In between I did continue to write. I recorded a few favorite things, 2-3 bluegrass CDs, a patriotic CD, but none of that sold very well at all except out of the trunk of my car! But I did get some good critical acclaim so my name did stay in light, so to speak, just not as bright. Then as I watched all the success being enjoyed by other artists, old and young, with all the new technology and all the different ways of marketing their product I thought well, I’m as good as I ever was if I was any good so I’m going for it. Country music is my favorite and I do it best, so I wrote a bunch of songs. By the way, I’ve written nine of the songs on the Backwoods Barbie CD. I went in the studio with Kent Wells and we produced this CD that we’re very proud of. We brought in the very best musicians Nashville has to offer, including some of my favorite old timers who played on all of my hit records in the past…like Pig Robins, Lloyd Green along with lots of the new ones, too.”

The album is also being on your own label. What prompted you to go “indie?”

“I put it on my own label because many of the majors really didn’t want me, as I mentioned, because of age thinking I was over. But I felt different about that. I figured the major labels are pretty much a thing of the past anyway, kind of like they thought I was. The way music is being played today, why not make all the money, if there’s any money to be made. I’d rather have all of something than some of nothing. So I hired Danny Nozell to help manage me and all the things concerning me with all the new ideas. And with his knowledge of the new age and the team that he’s put together, I just didn’t see how I could miss. I might, of course; but he has assembled a great team and has a great marketing plan. And I’m having a great old time in this new day and age, so why not give it a whirl. I’ll never stop. I’ll never end until they lay me down, and then I’ll go down kicking and screaming and trying to sing and write a song.”