Saturday, January 9, 2016

My Life in Music 1: Dolly

I have been thinking a lot lately about the things that are the most important to me and I have realized that my entire life has been framed and surrounded by music. Every bit of my life can be put to song, so I thought I would try something new and do a series of blogs about my favorite musicians and how they have impacted my life. I want to start with Dolly Parton.

Why start with Dolly?

Well, let me tell you. Ever since I was a kid, I have loved this woman. I should point out that she is a very religious woman and I am not. In fact, I consider myself to be an atheist. However, Dolly's music is as close as I will ever get to the gospel. There is something about not only her music but her whole life that I look up to in so many ways (despite the fact it's hard for someone 5'9" tall to 'look up' to a woman who stands a whopping 4'11"). I have learned so much from her: how to look at the bright side of things, how to change and adapt to your surrounds, how to not lose yourself in the crowd, how to forgive, and how to be compassionate and love others.

She is also hilarious. She says she took her look from the woman of ill repute in her small town because, in Dolly's child eyes, she was the most beautiful woman in the world. Dolly also quips about how it costs so much to look so cheap. She is self-effacing and doesn't seem to let anything get her down. Plus, how can you go wrong with songs like this?

This is absolute perfection

Throughout the years she has appeared in a number of movies and television shows, always showcasing her southern, down-home wisdom and her own quick sense of humor. One of my favorite characters is that of Truvy in Steel Magnolias but has also been in a number of great movies such as 9 to 5, Straight Talk,  The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (for which SHE WROTE AND PERFORMED the iconic 'I Will Always Love You', later sang by Whitney Houston for The Bodyguard), Joyful Noise, Rhinestone, and even a number of cameos such as this scene in Miss Congeniality 2.

Solid Gold

While her appearances in movies and television shows are always entertaining, and her interviews on late night programs always leave me in stitches, it is not always fun and games with Dolly. She grew up super poor and has built herself up into a worldwide megastar, all while remaining humble and down to Earth. She often uses the butterfly as her symbol because the beautiful butterfly has to go through the stage where it is just a glorified worm to become something magnificently beautiful and able to fly. It is a wonderful depiction of her life. Ironically, Google has informed me that today is the 41th anniversary of the discovery of the Mountain of the Butterflies doodle. Seems like a good day to talk about Dolly.

Besides her career in music and movies, she has also started a number of charities. She founded the Imagination Library, which sends out free books throughout the world for children who can't afford them. Her devotion to children is amazing, possibly because she has none of her own, despite being married to the same man since the 60's, a truly remarkable feat for someone in the public eye. She even opened a theme park in Tennessee called Dollywood, where she hires locals and family members in order to build up the local economy. 

She is an advocate for gay rights and is actually thrilled to be the inspiration for a number of drag queens. Dolly truly looks for the bright side of life and the fun in every situation. She is flattered by the love shown to her and does her best to pay that love forward. Her songs have morphed through the years, covering an incredible range of topics from the stigma associated with the intelligence of blondes to the loss of loved ones and children. She does not shy away from any situation in her songs and a good number of them share the lessons and the gospel she grew up with. Some may seem like they are just fun and ridiculous, but then they come up with a lesson at the end that will leave you thinking long after the song is over. 

She has been singing and making music since the 1960's and has amassed an incredible library. There are simply too many to get through in this little blog of mine. If you have time, I highly recommend checking out her songs, at least, 5 from each decade, because there is gold in every era of Dolly's music. One of my favorite songs of all time is this one. Better get to Livin' in which she points out how ridiculous it is to let life pass you by and how you should take it by the horns and make your own path. 

I have always loved Dolly and I think I always will. When I am lost and I need to figure out a huge problem, it helps to listen to her music. With her unique, beautiful voice and her plain and simple lyrics, I am usually always able to see the light and the path I need to take in life. A girl could really have a worse hero than the irrepressible Dolly Parton. Thank you, Dolly, for shaping me into the woman I am today.

1 comment:

  1. Using your music to explore you life is the perfect way to use your blog! I love that idea. I can't WAIT to hear about Pink! :) This was a fantastic post!