Pick Six: Dolly Parton
It’s Dolly Parton’s 66th birthday today, so we’re celebrating with a song from each decade dating back to the 1960s. Narrowing down 50-some years’ worth of material to six songs is no easy task, but what are your favorite Dolly songs?
1960s: “Don’t Drop Out,” released in 1966, is a slice of pop perfection, but let’s talk about Dolly’s duets with Porter in the ‘60s and ‘70s. There’s no doubt that they are some of the finest country songs ever recorded (though, it must be said, there are a couple cheeseballs, too), and “Just Someone I Used to Know” is my favorite of the bunch. Lots of artists have recorded it since then, but nobody’s ever done it quite this magnificently.
1970s: Dolly was in her prime in the ‘70s, writing and recording country classics like “Coat of Many Colors,” “Jolene,” “Joshua,” and “I Will Always Love You.” “Here You Come Again,” though not written by Parton, was an essential element in her successful crossover to pop music.
1980s: Dolly and Kenny’s chart-topping version of this Bee Gees-penned song would be the guiltiest of guilty pleasures if it wasn’t so dang good. Catchy, fun, and absolutely irresistible, there’s a reason why it’s a karaoke staple.
1990s: “Rockin’ Years,” a #1 single with Ricky Van Shelton, is a top-notch tune. The duo’s voices mesh so beautifully that I wish “Rockin’ Years” wasn’t just a one-off. Unfortunately, it was Dolly’s last time on the top of the country charts until she worked with Brad Paisley on his single “When I Get Where I’m Going” in 2005.
2000s: Dolly’s trio of bluegrass records are must-listens. In my opinion, Little Sparrow is the best of the bunch. She re-recorded her songs “Down From Dover” and “My Blue Tears,” but it was her cover of Collective Soul’s ‘90s radio staple “Shine” (featuring Nickel Creek) that first grabbed my attention as a whippersnapper. Over a decade later, it still does.
2010s: One of the things I admire most about Dolly Parton is the way she built an empire from the ground up. “The Sacrifice,” on her most recent album, Better Day, is all about the hard work needed to do something—anything—worthwhile: “Empty or full, I’ve carried my pail/You don’t drink the water if you don’t dig the well/Through blood, sweat, and tears, I’ve built a good life/But it didn’t come without sacrifice.” It’s still early in the decade, so there’s no telling where Dolly will go from here, but whatever she does, we’ll listen.
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- Barry Mazor: Speculation is free!
- Jack: Taste of Country has a pretty shallow point of view, and this little blurb is exhibit A.
- Leeann Ward: It is admittedly fun to speculate about these things.
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