Thursday, 24 February 2011
Dolly Parton: The Best Person To Have Ever Lived.
(Originally published in Attitude)
When I was in School, we had a thought for the week which was supposed to inspire us. If I were a teacher there today every single one of these would be drawn from My Life And Other Unfinished Business by Dolly Parton. Dolly is both my number one role model and my ultimate fantasy glamour-nana. In fact, I would happily swap her for any of my living relatives, bar my mother, who I've always had a soft spot for.
Her book contains all sorts of unbeatable advice, such as to chew food, but not swallow it (“what’s more disgusting? Spitting out food, or being a lardass?”) and fascinating accounts of her younger brother substituting a cow’s teet for his cock in order to get a blowwie from a calf. It’s basically as incredible a read as befits such a glorious woman.
Whenever I imagine meeting Dolly (which I do with almost alarming frequency) I envisage it being like the scene in The Wizard Of Oz where everything changes from black and white to colour. She’s just so joyous. And so wise! When I was 19 I took myself off to Dollywood in Tennessee. Every part of my pilgrimage was awe-inspiring, including a chance encounter en route with an old lady who worked in a florists and went to school with Dolly in the olden days. I asked her if the other children knew that Dolly would become such a big star, and she told me “we didn’t, but she did.” Isn’t that wonderful? It’s Dolly’s brand of blind hope that has steered me through many uncomfortable dates (“why are you crying?”), ill-judged initiatives (I once unsuccessfully tried to make Russell Tovey fall in love with me just by standing next to him while he carried on a conversation with someone else) and my various attempts to befriend Ginger Spice.
Frankly, the news that Dolly will be releasing a new album and touring Europe this summer has filled me with the kind of euphoria usually reserved for religious epiphanies and opiate users. Happiness seems as fundamental to Dolly’s being as tastelessness is to Ke$ha’s, and for her fans that is infectious. But as they know, she isn’t all sweetness and light, and has written over 3,000 songs spanning the full spectrum from life-affirming to claw out your own wind-pipe depressing. My favourite at the moment is called Mountain Angel and is about a girl, loved by her whole community of mountain dwellers, who falls for an enigmatic man that turns out to be Satan. Bummer. He gets her pregnant, then abandons her. Her baby dies, as do her doting parents (from broken hearts) and she takes to the wild; becomes a nudist, then a witch - and finally dies lying next to the baby’s grave. The trauma doesn’t end there though, as her mournful wails are heard forever more. Brilliant. You just don’t get that kind of pathos from Taio Cruz, do you?
More Dolly here.