If the image of Dolly Parton
was indeed to be carved in stone atop a great mountain in her native East Tennessee hills, it would be a worthy honor among the hundreds of honors and awards she has already received - for her accomplishments over the past 50 years as a singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, worldwide touring artist, Hollywood actor and TV personality, Broadway entrepreneur, author, amusement theme park owner, celebrated philanthropist, and more.
Not the least of those accomplishments is her litany of hit songs and signature compositions spanning five distinct decades - in fact, Dolly Parton is distinguished for having charted at least one Top 5 country hit in each of those decades (from the '60s to the '00s). She has also charted at least one #1 country hit (if not a dozen) in each decade from the '70s to the '00s: "Joshua," "Jolene," "I Will Always Love You," "Love Is Like A Butterfly," "Here You Come Again," and many more in the '70s; "Starting Over Again," the Grammy Award-winning "9 To 5," "Islands In The Stream" (with Kenny Rogers
), "Tennessee Homesick Blues," "Why'd You Come In Here Lookin' Like That," and many more in the '80s; "Rockin' Years" (with Ricky Van Shelton
) in 1991; and "When I Get Where I'm Going" (with Brad Paisley
) in 2005.
Now a unique new honor comes her way with the simply-titled "Dolly", the first multi-CD, multi-label deluxe box set compilation ever to represent her life's work, comprising 99 songs over four CDs. "Dolly" will be available at all physical and digital retail outlets starting October 27th through RCA Nashville/Legacy, a division of SONY Music Entertainment. The set is also available for pre-order at www.shopdolly.com
The elegant package designed for "Dolly" houses a full-color 60-page booklet with never-before-seen photographs and rare memorabilia. A brief and loving introduction has been written by Nashville-bred singer-songwriter Laura Cantrell. An extensive 5,000-word biographical essay follows, by ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award-winning writer-editor-producer-lecturer Holly George-Warren. Her recent books include Public Cowboy No. 1: The Life and Times of Gene Autry; The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: The First 25 Years; and The Road to Woodstock (with Michael Lang). She has written liner notes for dozens of rock and country anthologies and box sets, many of them on Legacy, including June Carter Cash
's "Keep On The Sunny Side: Her Life in Music" (2005), Johnny Cash
"at Madison Square Garden" (2002) and the reissue of Uncle Tupelo
's "Still Feel Gone" (2003).
Earlier this year, in March 2009, one week prior to the eagerly-anticipated Broadway opening of "9 To 5: The Musical" at the Marriott Marquis Theatre, RCA Nashville/Legacy released a new expanded edition of 1980's 9 To 5 And Odd Jobs
- with three bonus tracks, two of them previously unreleased.
"Dolly" continues to explore the broad range and depth of her recording career - from the rarely-heard sides cut at age 11 for the Louisiana-based Goldband indie label, and at age 16 for Mercury in Nashville, through her whirlwind two years (and first chart records) with Monument (1965-67), her record-setting near two-decade stay with RCA Records (1967-85, underpinning her long hitmaking association with Porter Wagoner
), and another near-decade at Columbia into the '90s.
Image © RCA Nashville/Legacy
In addition, seven previously unreleased tracks make their historic debuts on this box set:
-"Gonna Hurry (As Slow As I Can)" - demo circa 1957-62, co-written with her uncle Bill Owens, a formative figure in Dolly's early musical evolution;
-"Nobody But You" (with the Merry Melody Singers) - from the same 1962 Nashville sessions that produced Dolly's Mercury single "It's Sure Gonna Hurt" b/w "The Love You Gave," both songs also included on this box set;
-"I've Known You All My Life" - a virtually unknown Goffin-King song (cut by the Four Preps) from the same November 1965 sessions at Monument as "Don't Drop Out," produced and arranged by Ray Stevens;
-"Everything Is Beautiful (In Its Own Way)" - an original composition, from the fall 1969 sessions at RCA Studios Nashville for The Fairest Of Them All;
-"God's Coloring Book" - an original, thematically related to "Coat Of Many Colors," from the same April 1971 sessions which produced that LP;
-"Eugene Oregon" and "What Will Baby Be" - both original compositions, from the RCA Studios Nashville sessions of December 1972, for My Tennessee Mountain Home.
The phenomenal chart statistics that Dolly Parton has accumulated come alive on "Dolly". She is the top-ranked female (by far!) among Joel Whitburn's all-time Top 10 artists for most overall country chart hits (113), most Top 40 country hits (87), most Top 10 hits (57), most #1 hits (25), and the most pop crossover hits (25).
Of the 99 tracks on "Dolly", one is not a Dolly Parton recording: "Put It Off Until Tomorrow" by Bill Phillips on Decca, 1965, is significant because it was the first composition by 19-year old Dolly (co-written with her uncle Bill Owens) that actually hit the charts, earning Dolly her first BMI songwriting award. This was during Dolly's first year at Monument Records, when owner Fred Foster was trying to position her as a teen pop star with her first couple of singles, "Busy Signal," and "Don't Drop Out" ("a kind of 'Leader Of The Pack' meets 'He's A Rebel'," writes Holly George-Warren). Dolly even appeared on American Bandstand.
Her first Monument pop singles didn't chart, but when Phillips' "Put It Off Until Tomorrow" clicked at country radio, Dolly was able to convince Foster to let her sing country music her way. The cheeky single "Dumb Blonde" (not!) was the result, followed by "Something Fishy," as Dolly scored her first two solid country chart hits. (Dolly married her husband Carl during this period as well, in 1966.) It was the success of those two songs that got the attention of RCA Victor country star Porter Wagoner.
After six years as Porter's "girl singer" partner on his syndicated tv show, the popular Norma Jean was getting married and retiring, and needed to be replaced. Porter offered Dolly a $60,000 annual salary to join him on tv. Along with their duets on the show, RCA wanted Porter and Dolly to record together. Dolly was reluctantly forced to leave Monument, but the RCA deal immediately hit paydirt in 1967, with the duet version of folksinger Tom Paxton's "Last Thing On My Mind."
Image © Sony BMG Entertainment
More than 20 of Porter and Dolly's duets hit the country chart - and 11 of them are featured on "Dolly":
-1967: "Last Thing On My Mind";
-1968: "Holdin' On To Nothin'," "We'll Get Ahead Someday," "Jeannie's Afraid Of The Dark";
-1969: "Just Someone That I Used To Know";
-1970: "Tomorrow Is Forever," "Daddy Was An Old Time Preacher Man";
-1971: "Better Move It On Home";
-1972: "Together Always," "Lost Forever In Your Kiss";
-1974: "Please Don't Stop Loving Me."
At the same time, Porter was overseeing Dolly's RCA recording sessions, though (as Holly George-Warren notes) he did not receive production credit on the albums, even though he was running the show. This was also the start of Dolly's most prolific years as a songwriter, as she applied her uncommon touch to stories of fallen women ("False Eyelashes"), free spirits ("Just The Way I Am"), her own hardscrabble life back in the mountains ("In The Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad)"), a betrayed woman gone mad due to her cheating husband, who then has her locked up in a mental institution ("Daddy Come And Get Me"), and many other colorful characters.
Dolly became a core RCA artist who knew that the sun was beginning to set on her partnership with Porter. She won her first #1 hit in 1970, "Joshua"; her second #1 in 1973, "Jolene" (#217 on Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Songs of All Time"); and her third #1 in 1974, the all-time goldmine, "I Will Always Love You" (her affectionate way of giving Porter notice of what was to come). Porter continued to oversee Dolly's sessions (without producer credit) until 1976, when she finally released her first self-produced LP, New Harvest...First Gathering
(with "Light Of A Clear Blue Morning," "You Are," and "Applejack").
Starting in 1977, Dolly's second decade at RCA brought some of the biggest hits in American music, as she regularly crossed over to the pop and Adult Contemporary charts: "It's All Wrong, But It's All Right," "Here You Come Again," "Heartbreaker," "I Really Got The Feeling," "You're The Only One," 'Starting Over Again," "Old Flames Can't Hold A Candle To You," "9 To 5," "But You Know I Love You," "Islands In The Stream" (with Kenny Rogers
), "Tennessee Homesick Blues," "Think About Love," and many others.
Into the '80s, Dolly established herself as a formidable actor as well, with critically acclaimed movie performances in 9 To 5
(1980, for which she received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy); The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas
(1982, and another Golden Globe nomination); Rhinestone
(1984); and Steel Magnolias
Dolly signed with Columbia Records in 1987, and went on to record five albums for the label: Rainbow
(1987); White Limozeen
(1989, with consecutive #1 hits, "Why'd You Come In Here Lookin' Like That" and "Yellow Roses," along with "Time For Me To Fly" and "He's Alive"); Eagle When She Flies
(1991, with the #1 duet, "Rockin' Years" with Ricky Van Shelton, "Eagle When She Flies," and "Silver And Gold"); Slow Dancing with the Moon
(1993, with "Romeo"); and Something Special
Inducted into the National Academy of Popular Music/Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2001, Dolly Parton went on to receive the Living Legend Medal from the Library of Congress in 2004, and the National Medal of Arts from President Bush
in 2005. In 2006, she was celebrated alongside fellow honorees Zubin Mehta, Steven Spielberg
, Smokey Robinson
and Andrew Lloyd Webber
at the Kennedy Center Honors, for her lifetime of contributions to the arts. She adds these honors to the seven Grammy Awards, 11 Country Music Association (CMA) Awards, nine Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards, and countless other Billboard, Cashbox and Record World, Peoples Choice, American Music Awards, BMI Awards, and more that she has won.
Holly George-Warren quotes from the memoir, Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business (HarperCollins, 1994): "Without a doubt, songwriting is my greatest source of joy and the best outlet for my creativity." Ms. George-Warren then sums up: "Listening to this musical autobiography, we are grateful for Dolly Parton's tenacious dedication to her craft."
Image © Courtesy of Shore Fire Media
"Dolly" - Tracklisting
1. Puppy Love
2. Girl Left Alone
3. Gonna Hurry (As Slow As I Can) (previously unreleased)
4. It's Sure Gonna Hurt
5. The Love You Gave
6. Nobody But You (previously unreleased)
7. Busy Signal
8. Don't Drop Out
9. I've Known You All My Life (previously unreleased)
10. Put It Off Until Tomorrow (by Bill Phillips)
11. Dumb Blonde
12. Something Fishy
13. I Couldn't Wait Forever
14. I'm Not Worth The Tears
15. Last Thing On My Mind
16. False Eyelashes
17. The Bridge
18. Just Because I'm A Woman
19. Holdin' On To Nothin'
20. We'll Get Ahead Someday
21. Jeannie's Afraid Of The Dark
22. In The Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad)
24. Evening Shade
25. Gypsy, Joe And Me
26. My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy
1. Just The Way I Am
2. Down From Dover
3. Everything Is Beautiful (In Its Own Way) (previously unreleased)
4. Daddy Come And Get Me
5. P Just Someone That I Used To Know
6. Tomorrow Is Forever
7. Daddy Was An Old Time Preacher Man
8. Comin' For To Carry Me Home
9. The Golden Streets Of Glory
10. Mule Skinner Blues (Blue Yodel No. 8)
12. Daddy's Moonshine Still
13. The Last One To Touch Me
14. Better Move It On Home
15. Coat Of Many Colors
16. Traveling Man
17. My Blue Tears
18. Here I Am
19. God's Coloring Book (previously unreleased)
20. Will He Be Waiting
21. Touch Your Woman
22. Together Always
23. Lost Forever In Your Kiss
24. My Tennessee Mountain Home
25. Eugene Oregon (previously unreleased)
26. What Will Baby Be (previously unreleased)
2. Early Morning Breeze
3. I Will Always Love You
4. Please Don't Stop Loving Me
5. Love Is Like A Butterfly
6. Sacred Memories
7. The Bargain Store
8. On My Mind Again
9. Kentucky Gambler
10. The Seeker
11. We Used To
12. All I Can Do
13. Light Of A Clear Blue Morning
14. You Are
16. It's All Wrong, But It's All Right
17. Here You Come Again
18. Two Doors Down
19. Me And Little Andy
21. I Really Got The Feeling
22. Baby I'm Burnin'
23. You're The Only One
24. Sweet Summer Lovin'
25. Starting Over Again
1. Old Flames Can't Hold A Candle To You
2. 9 To 5
3. But You Know I Love You
4. Single Women
5. Heartbreak Express
6. Do I Ever Cross Your Mind
7. Potential New Boyfriend
8. Islands In The Stream (Kenny Rogers with Dolly Parton)
9. Save The Last Dance For Me
10. Tennessee Homesick Blues
11. God Won't Get You
12. What A Heartache
13. Don't Call It Love
14. Think About Love
15. Why'd You Come In Here Lookin' Like That
16. Yellow Roses
17. Time For Me To Fly
18. He's Alive
19. Rockin' Years (Dolly Parton with Ricky Van Shelton)
20. Eagle When She Flies
21. Silver and Gold
Image © Tom Walck / Photorazzi