Review: Dolly Parton’s America

Review: Dolly Parton’s America

“Dolly Parton’s America” is a podcast series I recently finished that left an impression on me. If you know me you know I admire Dolly Parton. As a business person, an artist, and a humanitarian she is incredibly fascinating. Most people think of the big boobed country singer, or the park in Pigeon Forge when her name comes up, but she is much more. Take her incredible generosity towards others in the form of the Imagination Library or paying the rents of those who displaced by the Gatlinburg Fire, her growing business empire, and her enormous song library, and you start piecing together a celebrity that is transcending being a celebrity.

I am honestly a recent convert to Dolly Parton fandom. Previously I was like most people, familiar enough with her career as a country music singer to recognize her music and aware of her public personae displayed in the media. My perception of her changed after a chance trip to Dollywood a few years ago. At the time I wanted to stop in Pigeon Forge on our way back from a holiday trip to Asheville, NC. I stumbled upon Dollywood’s “Christmas in the Smokies” celebration and landed a great deal on a room and admission to the park. Honestly we were a little skeptical, but our expectations were completely blown away both in terms of the entertainment enjoyed and the value offered. You can read about that trip here. Since then we’ve committed to making a visit here in the winter an ongoing tradition, especially having our kid’s Santa pictures taken at the DreamMore Resort.

I think what drew me to her was exploring Dollywood and piecing together the themes of “dreaming more” and finding inspiration in one’s life spread throughout the resort and park. If you know me I am a sucker for both giving and receiving a good pep talk and I felt like I was getting one from Dolly herself. That experience piqued my curiosity and I began researching her story to get to know her better. I discovered an incredibly savvy business person who seemingly lived for others all while being a woefully underappreciated songwriter, having already penned several thousand songs in her lifetime. As an aside, she wrote “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You” in the same night. I think many musicians would make a career with just one of those credits.

Now that I am done gushing I’ll review the podcast series. The series tries to understand the broad appeal that Dolly Parton enjoys across so many segments of people. Her concerts are attended by gospel listening grannies and drag queens. She is well liked by people up and down the age spectrum and draws a lot of appeal from younger people despite being in her seventies. Even a middle aged man like myself has nothing but nice things to say about her and I’ve never met her in my life.

In today’s deeply divided America it’s hard to find someone that everyone likes, and somehow she tows the line in a way that neither ruffles feathers while not backing down either. Many consider her a national treasure. So what is it that makes up this special sauce?

Link for the podcast can be found HERE.

PS this was fun to review. I’ll be reviewing BBC’s “13 Minutes To The Moon” next!