Spend an Evening with Dolly
If you're a Dolly Parton fan, and you haven’t seen her in concert recently, look no further than your local Cracker Barrel Old Country Store for a stop on her latest concert tour, captured on film. An Evening with... Dolly, a new two-disc CD/DVD release is now available exclusively through the popular restaurant chain.
“This album has something for everybody and all the hits with stories about them,” Parton tells watchgmctv.com. “People like to hear me talk and I never know when to hush. They like to hear the stories, so the 11 songs, plus the two bonus tracks, I think is a good showing; plus with the DVD we did a lot of behind the scenes. People like that too. They like to see how the show was put together, what it’s like backstage... So we’ve got something for everybody on this. They can travel and go on a trip without having to pay any more than what the DVD costs.”
The DVD was filmed at Parton’s sold-out concert at London’s O2 Arena. The veteran entertainer admits it was hard to cull down her vast repertoire and decide which songs to include on the project. “It’s not an easy job,” she says, looking radiant in a fitted blue jacket and tapered black slacks. “You just try to think of what they’ll enjoy the most, what you can entertain them with the most, what your best stories would be about, this song or how that song came to be, but you have to leave out so much stuff it just breaks your heart.”
An Evening with... Dolly includes the classics folks have come to expect from the East Tennessee native, among them “Coat of Many Colors,” “Jolene,” “9 to 5,” “Here You Come Again” and “I Will Always Love You.” “There are just some that you know you have to do,” she smiles, “but there are some songs that are famous that were not hits like ‘Applejack’ that people want to hear [with me] playing the banjo. You try to base it on how you entertain the crowd, put your dynamics to where you kind of want to go up and down. My favorite part of the show is the Tennessee Mountain Home segment.”
Retailing for $11.99, the project is available at Cracker Barrel locations around the country. “They are in 42 states and I’ve eaten in all of them I’m sure,” she says with a laugh. “My husband loves the coleslaw. I love the cornbread muffins so every week I have something from there. I’ll go in there and buy cassettes and different things. I’ll buy those old radio shows for my husband all the time. They do have great stuff and it is a great pairing... Cracker Barrel is a country store. I’m a country girl. We’ve worked with them before on [the] Backwoods Barbie [album] and they do great with selling music, gospel, bluegrass and country stuff especially, so we’re a perfect team.”
Parton is not touring this year, opting to write instead. “I’m writing my life story as a musical and probably going to do my life story as a movie too,” she says. “I have a book that’s probably going to come out this fall, a positive, uplifting little book that I’ll be donating most of the proceeds to The Imagination Library, my literacy program, and I’m going to be writing some children’s books. So I’m mainly focusing on my writing, not just my songwriting, but some of the other stuff I want to do too.”
Though she enjoys all types of writing, Parton admits songwriting has always had a special place in her heart. “There is nothing more sacred and more precious to me then when I can really get in that zone where it’s just God and me and I really let those juices flow,” she says. “I still get the same feeling from it as I did when I was young trying to do it for money, or at least hoping I made money. I never did it for money and I would still do it if I wasn’t making money.”
Parton has penned numerous chart-topping hits during her career, but “I Will Always Love You” is her best-known composition. “I’ll probably be remembered more for that than anything,” she says. “I wrote that about my leaving the Porter Wagoner Show – Porter being the guy who had really helped me the most in my early days. He had a syndicated show. When I started with him, I had already three chart records and [I said] I’d stay for five years, but I wanted to have my own career and band and all that. So when five years ended, we were really hot and Porter didn’t want me to go... We fought a lot over that, so finally I thought, ‘He’s so stubborn, he’s never going to listen to me. This is going to be nothing but a heartache and we’re going to go through this every day.’ So I went home and wrote the song that night just out of what I was feeling in my heart. I took it back the next day and said, ‘Porter, sit down, there’s something I need you to hear.’ I started singing the song and I was emotional. He got emotional and we were both crying. By the time I finished the song and he said, ‘Okay, that’s the best thing you’ve ever wrote and you can go if I can produce a record on that song.’ I said, ‘okay, it’s a deal.’ That’s how that came to be.”
Though Parton's original was a hit, she credits Whitney Houston with making the song a lasting phenomenon. “It was only when Whitney Houston took it and took it all over the world with The Bodyguard that it really became what it is today, so I always think of that as our song,” she says, “and it just killed me when they lifted her coffin up at the funeral and when they started into that song. Man, it was like you could stab me in the heart with a dagger and that’s when I broke down over her. I really was like everybody else, upset and hated it [that she died], but it was then that I just started boo hooing. I thought, those are my words and my song, and her song, and I started thinking, ‘I bet that won’t be the only coffin lifted up for that song to play.’ I figure when I’m dead that will probably be the same thing and it was just overwhelming to me, but I will always be grateful and thankful to her for making that song all the things that it is.”
In addition to her writing endeavors, Parton also has some other irons in the fire. She has partnered with Gaylord Entertainment to develop a new theme park in Nashville, set to open spring 2014. She’s also excited about the latest incarnation of “9 to 5,” the musical based on the hit film she starred in with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. The play will open in England later this year. “It had done the Broadway thing and that was over, then we did the tour across America with it and I thought that was the end of it,” Parton says, “but it’s just like the thing won’t die. For 30 years I’ve been doing a ‘9 to 5’ job ever since the movie with Jane and Lily. When they said they wanted to do it, I was excited. They are keeping the music the same... but for the British audience – their sense of humor is so different than ours – some of the stuff I think they want to make it more for a British audience, so I think they are going to make a few changes. I’ll be curious to see how it plays there. It opens in Manchester in October and then goes all around.”
About the Writer
Deborah Evans Price has covered Christian/Gospel music for Billboard magazine since 1994. She also contributes regularly to CountryWeekly, CMA Close Up, Devo’Zine, Christian Single, HomeLife, BMI Music World, and other publications. A Nashville resident since 1983, Deborah has held editorial posts at Radio & Records, Country News, American Songwriter and Billboard. Amy Grant, Trace Adkins, Brad Paisley, Charlie Daniels, 3 Doors Down, Third Day, Don Henley, Bon Jovi, Chris Rice, Sandra Bullock, Mercy Me, Alan Jackson, Smokey Robinson, Carrie Underwood and Steven Curtis Chapman are among her many interviews. Additionally, she's a sought-after music industry analyst who has been interviewed on CNN, MSNBC, TNN, The Today Show, and ABC PrimeTime Live, among other outlets.Deborah is a member of the Gospel Music Association's board of directors and a graduate of Leadership Music. She resides south of Nashville with her husband, Gary, and son Trey.
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