2016 CD REVIEW
PURE & SIMPLE (RCA-SONY).
DOLLY FALLS HEAD OVER HIGH HEELS FOR ADELE
“Put on my tight dress, hair teased on my head/ I painted my lips red, and my eyes like Adele/ I step in my high shoes/ cheeks blushed in rose rouge/ I'm looking too cool, but you never can tell.” - Head Over High Heels - Dolly Parton.
Singing actress Dolly Parton has not lost her sense of humour at the ripe young age of 70 on her 43rd album Pure & Simple.
Well, she name checks pop peer Adele in her lyrics for punny Head Over High Heels - one of her 12 new originals on a 22 track double CD that features a bonus disc of her historic hits.
“I love Adele, love her,” Dolly confessed as she launched her CD, “I relate to her like she's somebody I've always known. Some day we might get together, write something, wouldn't that be great? I think we both want that, actually.”
Dolly's cross-fertilisation worked - her CD topped Billboard charts on debut with sales of 20,107 copies.
It's her first chart-topping collection in 25 years - her last was Eagle When She Flies in 1991.
Parton is solo writer on her new originals but includes her duet cover with Texan Kenny Rogers of the Barry Gibb penned hit Islands In The Stream on her bonus disc.
Dolly also exuded humour in recalling advice from late mother Avie Lee and mentor Chet Atkins early in her colourful career spanning more than five decades.
“Mama always said, just be yourself,” revealed Parton, the fourth of 12 children raised in the Snowy Mountains of Tennessee who left home at 18 to chase her dreams sewn in her mama's Coat Of Many Colours.
“Be true to what you know you are and what you know you can do; be true to your own talent. Don't try to be like somebody else.”
But famed producer-guitarist Chet Atkins, who died at 77 in 2001, advised her to ditch her signature look in order to be taken seriously as a musician early in her career.
“Chet said, ‘Dolly, you're going to need to get rid of all that because people are never going to take you serious if you look like that; you're just looking too gaudy,” she recalled.
“So, after I became a big star, looking the same way - and even worse at that time - Chet came up to me and said, ‘Boy, I'm sure glad you took my good advice.'
“He thought he was giving me good advice,” Parton added, “but I didn't do it, and it still worked out for me.”
Dolly's iconic big blonde hair and bedazzled outfits left a big impression on her vast cast of fans – especially gay girls and boys all over the world.
But Parton says her appearance isn't necessarily reflective of the “real her.”
“I know I look totally artificial, but I'd like to think I'm real where it really counts,” she confessed.
“It's how people treat one another and what they do and the way they do it - that's what should matter. And that takes some time to figure out - you don't know right away.”
It worked for Dolly who recently celebrated 50 years of marriage to her asphalter husband Carl Dean whom she met on the way home from a Wishy-Washy Laundromat in Nashville.
The couple married secretly on May 30, 1966, with Avie Lee as sole witness, and recently renewed their wedding vows at a ceremony at their Willow Lake Plantation Estate in Tennessee.
Dean was the inspiration for her historic hit Jolene – saga of a red headed bank teller and stranger who tried to steal Carl's love deposits and persuaded the singer to change her bank. Pure & Simple title track and Say Forever You'll Be Mine but not all the songs.
CAN'T BE THAT WRONG – DOLLY NO CHEATER
“So often in my dreams, I hold you close against my skin/ waking up I wish that I could sleep and dream again/ cause only when I sleep, can I not hear how it's a sin/ how cheaters never win, their heartaches never end.” - Can't Be That Wrong - Dolly Parton.
Dolly says Can't Be That Wrong was inspired by a friend's Delilah desires - not her own.
“Whether I've lived it or not, I've experienced every feeling,” Dolly divulged.
“I'm a human being, I'm a passionate, romantic fantasy person. I believe in all that fairytale love and we look for that. That cheating song, I wrote that someone very close. Because love is love, you can't control it, you can't stop it. I'm a songwriter first and foremost. People say ‘you must have lived through this to sing that.' I choose stories, even some things I haven't lived. Most of it I have. I don't deny or admit anything.”
It's a sibling song of sorts of Outside Your Door where the character's lust is fuelled by “two bottles of wine, one white and one red/ few drinks to unwind and then off to bed.”
It may be romance on the run but it's not poultry passion - of the “ill eagle” nature.
LOVING CARL UNTIL LONG AFTER THE ENCORE
“Loving you is my great honour/ loving you, my pride and joy/ I'll defend you, I'll mend you/ when you're broken like a toy/ when your burdens get too heavy/ when you're weary to the bone/ I will help you hold it steady/ pack it up and head for home.” - Loving You - Dolly Parton.
Salient sequencing is another of Dolly's strong suits.
She ends with positive paeans Forever Love , matriarchal memories in Mama and unrequited romance anthem Loving You as her fitting finale.
So what's the verdict?
Well, Dolly has never lost her unique vocal style and her songs ooze with credible passion.
As co-producer with Richard Dennison and Tom Rutledge she ensures quality control extends to veteran session musicians such as pedal steel guitarist Paul Franklin, mandolinist Jimmy Mattingly and background vocalists Dennison, Vicki Hampton and Jennifer O'Brien.
Dolly is a true mentor to god-daughter Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift and even pop princess Katy Perry.
The jury in Nashville may be out on Taylor – she fronted for jury service but the drop in pay never eventuated as another law suit preclude her sitting in judgment.
It didn't stop Dolly's own verdict - “what Taylor Swift has done to keep herself together and be such a hero for the young is amazing. Smart girl.”
It would seem that Dolly has not been asked for her critique of Taylor's beau Tom Hiddleston in his role as the late icon Hank Williams in the I Saw The Light movie.
This bonus Dolly CD includes Coat Of Many Colours that inspired the Parton directed telemovie, 9 to 5 that starred Dolly, My Tennessee Mountain Home and I Will Always Love You - huge royalties earner for Dolly when resurrected by the late Whitney Houston who has not been so lucky.
Dolly sings the praises of Trio 3 - the treble Grammy winning retrospective triple CD with peers Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt - out in September.
But on the eve of the U.S. presidential election and mid-way through her Pure & Simple tour, Dolly is not indiscreet enough to give political preferences.
“This morning while I was watching the news I saw many reports that I had endorsed Hillary Clinton," Dolly joked.
"My comment about supporting a woman in the White House was taken out of context. I have not endorsed Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump. I try not to get political but if I am, I might as well just run myself 'cause I've got the hair for it, it's huge, and they could always use more boobs in the race. But seriously, I have not decided who I'm voting for, but no matter what we're gonna be suffering from P.M.S.: Presidential Mood Swings .
“Hillary might make as good a president as anybody ever has. But I personally think a woman would do a great job. I think Hillary's very qualified. So if she gets it, I'll certainly be behind her.”