Dolly Parton Among Many Stars Honoring Doc Watson On New Tribute Album

Listen to Dolly Parton sing “The Last Thing On My Mind,” ahead of the album’s April 28 release.

Dolly Parton in Gold Dress

NBC / Contributor/Getty Images

Dolly Parton is among the many stars who’ve recorded songs for the upcoming album honoring the life and legacy of Doc Watson for what would have been his 100th birthday. I Am A Pilgrim: Doc Watson at 100 features new renditions of some of Watson’s most beloved recordings from his expansive catalog performed by the likes of Parton, Rosanne Cash, Steve Earle, Valerie June, Bill Frisell, Marc Ribot, Jerry Douglas, Yasmin Williams, Jeff Parker, just to name a few. 

For Parton’s contribution, she recorded a new version of “The Last Thing On My Mind.” This tune was written by Tom Paxton in the early 60s, and one performed by Parton throughout her career. The Smoky Mountain songbird released a recording of it in 1967 with Porter Wagoner, and Watson and Parton performed it together in 2001 at MerleFest.  

"Doc Watson is everyone's hero and a great guitar player. Some say he is the absolute best, and I was honored to get to work with him a few times in my career,” Dolly Parton said in a press statement. 

While the full album won’t come out until April 28, you can get a first listen of Parton’s new version of “The Last Thing On My Mind” now. 

Arthel Lane “Doc” Watson, the North Carolina guitarist, singer and songwriter who would have turned 100 on March 3, 2023. Watson was born in Deep Gap, North Carolina in 1923 where he grew up listening to the Grand Ole Opry, Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family. Despite losing his eyesight at a young age, he learned guitar and became a master of the banjo. He was “an integral part of the early 1960s folk revival and became known as one of the greatest flatpicking guitarists of all time, a style that influenced the playing of countless guitarists,” as a press release for the new album stated. 

The North Carolina native  released nearly 30 albums spanning 50 years and collaborated with Earl Scruggs, Ricky Skaggs, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Del McCoury, Taj Mahal, Mississippi John Hurt, David Grisman and many others. He helped shape how mountain music has been perceived and shared it from his beloved home state to the world.  Watson also created MerleFest in 1988 to honor the memory of his son Merle that served as a fundraiser for Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. Watson presided over the festival every year from its inception and continued to perform until his death in May of 2012.

I’m A Pilgrim: Doc Watson at 100  will be released timed to this year’s MerleFest on April 28.  See the full track list and which artists will be performing them below. 

I Am A Pilgrim: Doc Watson at 100 Track List:

Shady Grove - Jerry Douglas

The Last Thing On My Mind - Dolly Parton

Am I Born To Die - Nora Brown

Alberta - Jeff Parker & Matthew Stevens

Make Me A Pallet - Steve Earle

I Am A Pilgrim - Rosanne Cash

Florida Blues - Jack Lawrence

How Long Blues - Corey Harris

WIll The Circle Be Unbroken - Ariel Posen

Handsome Molly - Valerie June & Bill Frisell 

Doc's Guitar - Yasmin Williams

Little Sadie - Chris Eldridge

Reuben's Train - Lionel Loueke

The Lost Soul - Marc Ribot

Your Lone Journey - Bill Frisell

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles