She has funded research for a coronavirus vaccine, she is being considered for the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and she has just launched a new perfume called ‘Dolly Scent From Above‘. Indeed, the great things the American award-winning Country singer, writer, actress, storyteller and businesswoman Dolly Parton has accomplished in her life are much more than that: she really has left her mark on the world with her charm, talent and generosity.
As Sarah Smarsh writes in her new book, ‘She Come by It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs’, the singer is a “universally beloved icon recognized as a creative genius with a goddess-sized heart”. In particular, the journalist underlines very interesting points: “Parton’s songs for decades have validated women who go unheard: the poor woman, the pregnant teenager, the struggling mother disparaged as trailer trash. Parton’s broader career—from singing on the front porch of her family’s cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains to achieving stardom in Nashville and Hollywood, from “girl singer” managed by powerful men to the leader of a self-made business and philanthropy empire—offers a springboard to examining the intersections of gender, class, and culture.”
Born the fourth of 12 children and raised in Tennessee, Parton has sold more than 100 million albums and published an incredible 3,000 songs. She has played lovely characters in classic films like “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” “9 to 5” and “Steel Magnolias“, and she is an avid Instagrammer, too. She spawned her own hashtag – #Dollyisms – to share her aphorisms and sassy life mottos. Her best one? “I think there is a little magic in the fact that I’m so totally real but look so artificial at the same time.”
We, midlifers, have many reasons for loving her. First of all, she embodies what CrunchyTales means for ‘ageing playfully’. Witty, glamorous, honest and confident, she may age, but she’ll never get old. Secondly, whether she’s telling us to “Find out who you are and do it on purpose” or comforting us with the adage that “Storms make trees take deeper roots,” she always knows the right things to say. And even though her life has not been all about ‘lollipops and unicorns’ (she has experienced depression, including a suicide attempt in the ’80s), she has been always ahead of her time. “I love everybody, and I go right through the bullshit to the core of every person because we are all one -she once told Andy Warhol – The biggest freaks in the world are my favourite people, like you, like me.”
When asked about ageing, Dolly Parton –75 years old– speaks her mind. “I don’t think about my life in terms of numbers – she said, planning to return on the cover of Playboy magazine soon -. I ain’t never gonna be old because I ain’t got time to be old. I can’t stop long enough to grow old“. The amazing songwriter, well known for her big hair and iconic fashion looks over the years, said her goal is to “be the best I can be at whatever age,” and to “look as young as [her] plastic surgeons will allow”.
Creator of timeless songs like “Coat of Many Colors,” “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You”, there’s so much more to the star beyond her giant sales figures and outsized persona who never lost touch with her roots: her humour. In her autobiography, “Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business“, she writes: “I tried every diet in the book. I tried some that weren’t in the book. I tried eating the book. It tasted better than most of the diets.”
Dolly Parton, you are simply irresistible!