For most of my life, I have looked up to the southeast Tennessee ICON, Dolly Rebecca Parton. My parents had the iconic 8-track duet between Dolly and Kenny, “Islands in the Stream.” To this day, I feel a certain way when I hear that song. As I grew up we would spent every Christmas in the Smokies with our extended family. We would enjoy the sights and sounds of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Force, and the same area where Dolly lived. We went to Dollywood.
I watched and loved Hee-Haw reruns, 9-5, and Steel Magnolias as a kid. I’ve had Dolly t-shirts, greatest hits CDs, and more. I’ve watched every documentary about her and always felt just an admiration for her work. It seems that for nearly all of my life I have followed Dolly’s trajectory. Once I had my own kids, they were the recipients of Dolly’s generous Imagination Library, receiving one book a month between birth and the start of kindergarten. I am a huge fan of Dolly.
It feels like over the past five or six years, Dolly’s popularity has been mainstreamed. You see her face and hear her name everywhere. She really seemed to shine in 2020 and as I began to make my own goals for this new year, I decided that I wanted to become a Dolly Parton Expert, taking what I already know and love about her to a completely new level. My goals: to read one book per month by or about her and over the course of the year, keep a collection of articles as well as listen to every single song in her musical cannon, starting with her earliest recordings in the late 1950s.
I’m planning a monthly blog post to catalog what I’ve covered and what I’ve learned.
Songs from late 1950s-1963:
Articles I Read/Dolly in the News: