Dolly Parton, Songteller by Dolly Parton

We all know that Dolly Parton is the true MVP of 2020. But did we know that Dolly Parton is a lifelong MVP? Although she’s been a public figure for most of her life, she’s mastered the distinction between public and personal. With that being said, don’t expect this memoir to blur those lines too much.

Parton maintained a decent distance within the pages. While her family and her marriage, and the rumors that have surrounded her, were acknowledged and discussed to an extent, this book is more about her as an artist than her as a person. Whether or not that’ll be enough for some of her fans is hard to say, but it is a model for other budding artists out there.

Or just for people out there, the biggest takeaway I have from Parton’s biography is: “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Parton’s life is nearly molded after that. Ignoring scandalous and salacious rumors, never being bated by the press, enjoying a long and healthy relationship with her husband, her life isn’t about what people said about her. It’s about what she said in her songs.

Parton showcased her artistic focus in this book. Using five seconds here-or-there, an hour in the mountains, a drive to the recording studio, Parton’s mind was always racing lyrically. “9 to 5” was literally written between takes of 9 to 5. I don’t think you can get more dedicated than that.

“Jolene” was the name of a fan that introduced herself one night after Parton’s concert. She enjoyed the sound of it so much, rolling it around on her tongue, that she had a hit by the next day. Although “Jolene” was remembered for her own merits as a Parton lyric and performance, many other artists have reinvented Parton’s songs. Whitney Houston with Dolly Parton’s, “I Will Always Love You,” Tina Turner with, “There Will Always Be Music,” and many more are falsely attributed to other artists than to Parton.

It’s a lesson in creation rather than credentials. A reminder for artists beginning, reassessing, and working, that Parton’s success came from production not from promotion.

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