At 70, country icon Dolly Parton seems to have the energy of someone half her age. With all of her achievements, which include selling 100 million records, winning seven Grammys, bedazzling Hollywood producers, and establishing herself as a keen businesswoman and entrepreneur, she wouldn’t be blamed for slowing down a bit. But, Dolly isn’t skipping a beat. We checked in to find out what she’s been up to lately and what’s on the horizon for the beloved crooner and mogul.
Q: You just renewed your wedding vows with your husband, Carl Dean, in late May. Why did you want to do that?
A: Well, we’ve been married fifty years, and we just thought, “Fifty years is a long time.” We’re real proud of that, especially in this business, and we thought it would be a sweet thing to do. I’d always wanted to have a beautiful wedding gown and a veil, but I never got to do it the first time. My mom made me a little white dress and put it together with a white Bible and a little bouquet, and she went with us when we went down to Ringgold, Georgia [to get married] in ’66. So anyhow, I thought, “Well, we’ll just dress up this time, and I can have my beautiful dress and a beautiful wedding album.” We did the whole bit at our little chapel on our place. Then we went to Ringgold and had our honeymoon there, and came back to the lake and had a few days off.
Q: Right after that, you released your love album, Pure & Simple, which debuted at number one on your own Dolly Records.
A: Well, I’m very excited about Pure & Simple. I wrote all the songs, and arranged and produced the album, with my guys, Richard Dennison, and Tom Rutledge, and Kent Wells pitching in to help whatever they needed to. And it’s a love of many colors album (chuckle), with all the different emotions. I’m really proud of that. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a number one album in the charts. [Eagle When She Flies, 1991.] It always feels good to be number one, and to still be in the game, especially at this age. (Laugh)
Q: You’re also touring into December. Do you have a pre-performance ritual?
A: (Chuckle) Yeah, I actually do. I always pray that God will let me touch people, to uplift them and glorify Him, and to really have a good time myself. Somebody asked me not too long ago what my ritual was, and I said, “Well, I pray and pee and go to work.” (Laugh) And that’s what I do.
Q: So much has happened for you this year. For example, The Complete Trio Collection, all the recordings you made with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt, was released in September. Those recordings are especially precious now that Linda has lost her voice to Parkinson’s disease.
A: The work I did with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris is one of the things I’m proudest of. We had two big hit records, Trio, and then Trio II. And they remastered and reworked those two albums, and we had something like 20 songs left in the can, meaning that didn’t come out. And so now we’ve put that all together, and I’m really proud that people who love that music will have everything.
Q: You have accomplished so much. What are some other of your favorite projects?
A: I’m proud of everything I’ve ever accomplished. I’m especially proud to be in the Songwriters Hall of Fame. That’s probably one of my favorite things. I’m very proud that I’ve left some songs in this world that have touched people, like the “Coat of Many Colors.” That little franchise will probably go on and on. We just did a book on “Coat…,” coming out October 18. All the money from that is going to go to [her childhood literacy program] the Imagination Library. Years ago, we had a little “Coat of Many Colors” book, and it did really well, so we reworked it with new illustrations. It’s just the gift that keeps on giving, that little “Coat of Many Colors.” We may even do a series of it, “Life of Many Colors.”
Q: In your DreamMore Resort, there is a chestnut box, a time capsule to be opened on your 100th birthday. [January 19, 2046.] It contains a song titled “My Place in History.” What do you think your place in history is?
A: Well, we’ll see. I’m still working on that. I’m still living it! But yes, I really did write that song to be played then. I put it on a CD, and put a CD player in there, with instructions on how to use it. Because Lord knows what they’ll have to play music on in thirty years. But I hope that I’m remembered by a lot of good things that I might have done. I’m very proud of the Imagination Library, for example. I’ve done plenty bad, I’m sure, but I hope they’ll just shove out the chaff and keep the wheat. I just hope that I’ll be remembered well.