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March 21, 2011



tribute portrait by p0plife

Last week we explained why many of us here loooove Damages. This week, we’re going bigger with our love, a confessional lady, someone whose music we love because she talks in the middle, someone we’ve given Friday Five love to – twice! and someone who really maybe taught some of us how to love in the first place: Dolly Parton.

But I still wanted to hear exactly why we love her so goshdarn much and how she inspires us in our own creative lives.

When I put the call out to my co-contributors, p0plife came back with this brilliant analysis (and visual aid):

Man, what’s not to love about Dolly? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again until I’m blue in the face, I think that Dolly Parton is The Great American Songwriter. No offense to Willie, Bruce, Woody, Bob, Joni, Hank, Jon and Exene, but when I think of great artists with a capital A, I think of people who can communicate every facet of being a human being. To me, that means the whole range of emotion. Dolly does it all! She’s written some of the saddest and some of the happiest songs ever. And she’s funny! She bewitched Andy Warhol. She’s influenced musicians crossing genre and generations. She’s been a fashion icon since day one. She’s a self-made business woman. She is daring and fearless. She is an advocate for equality. I don’t like hero worship, but Dolly Parton is my heroine.

Parton is known for her music first, but her charisma and performance talents soon had her acting as well. The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas was written about here by Snarky’s Machine last year, who has this to add about Dolly.

Dolly Parton is the consummate, “turning isht into shinola” actor. Her roles (with the exception of 9 to 5) are often thankless, one dimensional and written as though the writer had never HEARD of Dolly Parton. Yet, she always shuts it down. Even in laughable stinkers like “Rhinestones”, Parton has a great time and it’s clear her co-stars love every second of working with her.

We also love Dolly for her personal inspiration in our lives, as Everett mentions:

Dolly Parton was one of my first rallying personalities for my emerging progressive outlook, actually! In 9 to 5 she played directly against type both for her professional career, and her character, Doralee, for Southern women and blondes. But the mockery I heard against Dolly Parton and her physical endowment, well, it was early on in my adolescence, and it woke me up to the power and trauma of misogynist taunting. Go Dolly! She’s amazing.

And even if you aren’t a knowledgeable fan of the Dolly canon, you still can appreciate her positive marks on pop culture, and culture in general, as Pop Scribblings points out:

In thinking about Dolly Parton, I think she could have been easily Marilyn Monroe-ized by the media and the public. Marilyn, in life and death, was primarily seen as a beautiful blonde celebrity. She wasn’t taken seriously by most people, because they couldn’t get beyond her looks.  But Dolly carved out a multifaceted career for herself as an artist and businesswoman, defying anyone who’d want to turn her into an archetype. She fought for and earned respect, while still having a sense of humor about it all. Plus: Dollywood!

There’s no pleasing everyone, but Dolly is a rare creature who inspires a lot of people, a lot of the time. I leave you with one of my favorite Dolly-inspired art pieces by Amy Garlick.

[click on image to see her work, or get a Dolly print for yourself!]

13 Comments leave one →
  1. March 21, 2011 7:08 pm

    This was more amazing than I could have ever imagine.

  2. March 21, 2011 8:35 pm

    Work them stretchy pants, Miss Dolly!

  3. evmaroon permalink
    March 21, 2011 8:57 pm

    I love Dolly! Someday I’m going to make it to Dollywood!

  4. angie permalink
    March 22, 2011 2:56 am

    awesome possum.

  5. March 22, 2011 4:40 am

    I love the poplife tribute portrait, too. Was that not the Most Fun Hair To Draw, ever?

  6. March 22, 2011 8:26 am

    I love that you two didn’t plan it, but both of y’all were attracted to the same updo! Really all the words in the middle were just to hold the two pictures up.

  7. hollo permalink
    March 22, 2011 9:25 am

    I love Dolly! Jolene is one of my all-time favorite songs. I love that she’s an unapologetic songwriter, and open and honest about the hardships she has faced. And that old Porter Wagoner TV show is worth seeking out for seeing young Dolly at her flirty best!

  8. IrishUp permalink
    March 22, 2011 12:09 pm

    “In thinking about Dolly Parton, I think she could have been easily Marilyn Monroe-ized by the media and the public”

    WORD! I think that’s why I loved her so much as a kid when I saw “9 to 5”. She took that bull head on by the horns and wrestled to the ground!

  9. March 22, 2011 1:46 pm

    IrishUp, that video put a smile on my face!!!

  10. evmaroon permalink
    March 23, 2011 2:27 am

    I effing LOVE that movie! She got some of the best lines, too, and OMG, she HOG-TIED Dabney Coleman.

  11. March 23, 2011 10:09 am

    I absolutely LOVED drawing that hair. LOVED IT. Thanks, guys!

  12. March 23, 2011 10:09 am

    Oh, and Jack White owes Dolly Parton like, a billion dollars.

  13. athousanddreams permalink
    March 25, 2011 9:33 pm

    I love Dolly. Recently my best friend worked as an extra on a movie she was filming here in Georgia, and she brought homemade fudge to everyone on set. I thought that was really sweet of her.

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