One of the first 45's I ever bought when I was a kid was the theme song to the movie 9 to 5. I'd seen the movie at a friend’s birthday party. My poor mother was mortified by this news, because she had read there was a pot-smoking scene in the film. She needn’t have worried, because my 8-year-old self was oblivious as to why Judy, Violet and Doralee got so giddy from smoking what I thought was just a regular old cigarette.
I have several distinct memories of Dolly Parton from my lifetime, and that was one of the first. That scratched up 45 got a lot of play and is still in a bin somewhere in my bedroom closet.
There are few singer-songwriters who have accomplished as much as Parton. The 65-year-old has been in the music business for nearly five decades and continues to create new music and entertain her leagues of adoring fans. Her latest project will bring her to Houston Oct. 11 for a gig at Verizon Wireless. It’s a stop on her "Better Day World Tour" supporting her Better Day record, released in late June. The album features 12 new Parton-penned songs, each one as uplifting and inspiring as the next. The songwriter’s love for life and her perpetual optimism permeate the tracks. I’ve listened to it on my way to work the last few mornings, and it genuinely puts me in a good mood, ready to tackle whatever the day throws my way.
“I wanted to do an album that would be very uplifting and positive, as well as inspirational,” Parton says. “Times are hard all over. I think people need to feel better and I thought Better Day was a perfect title because it says 'hope.'"
To listen to this album is to attend the church of Dolly, whose philosophy doesn’t allow giving up and where ‘can’t’ isn’t a word. The title track is a bluesy tune with a gospel feel. Dolly speaks the first few lines, encouraging people to keep the faith before her sweet voice turns to song with the words:
“All that’s blue ain’t sky and sea/ Some of that blue's bound to get on me/ But the blues don’t come to stay/ They’ll move away on a better day.”
Parton is perhaps one of the most under-appreciated songwriters of our time. She was a trailblazer for current chart-topping women like Miranda Lambert and Taylor Swift, who prefer to write their own songs. “I’ve always been a writer," Parton says. "My songs are the door to every dream I’ve ever had and every success I’ve ever achieved.”
Some of her earliest and best-known songs will always be classics, including "Coat of Many Colors," "Jolene" and "I Will Always Love You," which has topped the charts on three separate occasions. She’s a woman who has never let anyone tell her “no,” and whose creativity, coupled with her savvy business sense, has created a legacy that includes a record label, theme parks, several movies, a Broadway show and a catalogue of music as pure as the heart of the woman who wrote it.
Parton is a living paradox — beneath the wigs, makeup and coifed exterior lives one of the most genuine and beautifully real people to ever entertain. She says making music is all she’s ever known. I for one am glad she's still doing what she does best, and I can’t wait to see her perform.
Hello, Dolly. It’s nice to have you back!