Dolly Parton on Elvis Presley: "There Was Nobody That I Ever Related to More"
The Smoky Mountain Songbird shared why she feels a kinship with the King of Rock 'n' Roll.
Dolly Parton may be a country music great while Elvis Presley was a rock 'n' roll star, but as omnipresent baskers in the spotlight, the two have much in common.
So much so, in fact, that Parton once revealed that she has long felt a palpable link to the musical icon, who died in 1977. "I always felt that we were kin," she told Playboy in a 1978 interview, per the book Dolly on Dolly: Interviews and Encounters with Dolly Parton. "I feel like I know exactly how he was. Every time he'd come in town, even if I was home, I just wouldn't go, somethin' always kept me from goin'. There were other people I liked to hear sing better, but there was nobody that I ever related to more."
Her admiration of Presley also ran deep. "He was very loving, very emotional, very sensitive, very giving, very humble, thankful, grateful," she said in the same interview. "I always felt that he was totally in awe of his own success and he didn't quite understand why he had been so chosen and why he was such an idol," she continued, surely a situation reminiscent of how Parton must have felt, given her impoverished origins.
Indeed, both of the singers grew up poor, though both of their childhoods were filled with rich musical experiences, surely paving the way for their careers to come. Their music is very different, but the impact it has on the listener is the same: it makes its way to your heart, lathers you up with emotion, and a has a way of staying with you long after a song ends. Perhaps the closest the two ever came to collaboration was when Presley was going to record Parton's 1973 now mega-famous tune, "I Will Always Love You," but she ultimately turned him down as she didn't want to give up her publishing rights.
Interestingly, Parton's first record label wanted the singer to be a rock star. While we can't imagine what her musical catalog would be like if she went down that path, it's fun to ponder what a record of duets between Presley and Parton would have sounded like. "Jolene Rock," "Coat of Many Blue Suede Shoes," and "Can't Help Falling in Love 9 to 5," perhaps?