1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 79

The Very Best of Dolly Parton, by Dolly Parton
Suggested by Matt Smith (Guilty Pleasure)

Dolly Parton is a badass.

I’m not talking about her being a musical badass, although she certainly qualifies there, with over 3000 writing credits to her name and some of the most iconic songs ever written in her ledger. I’m talking about how she comports herself in the world.

Through the Dollywood Foundation, her literary programme Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library mails one book a month to every enrolled child, from the time of their birth until they enter infants school. She’s donated over one hundred million free books.

At Dollywood, she has an American Eagle Foundation sanctuary, and she works hard to preserve the bald eagle. In 2016, she hosted her own telethon in response to the 2016 Great Smoky Mountain Wildfires.

When Covid-19 came knocking, she personally donated one million dollars towards virus research, and encouraged others with a similar financial status ah herself to do the same.

All this good work, and she also wrote Jolene. In the words of David Brent, “and people think she’s just a big pair of tits.”

For a Best Of compilation, The Very Best of Dolly Parton delivers. You get all the expected bangers, including 9 to 5, Jolene, Islands in the Stream and I Will Always Love You. In fact, they are the first four tracks on the album. Start strong, that’s the Parton Way! Happily, even after she cashes in her life savings in the first twenty minutes, there’s still a lot of Dolly Dollars rattling around the vaults. There’s Coat of Many Colours, and Love is Like a Butterfly, Here You Come Again, three tracks that, while not as iconic as the legitimate classics, are still well known and well crafted.

Country Music is a very mannered style, with cultural and musical tropes that are strong enough to have a marmite reaction to a casual audience. But as the (disputed) Queen of Country, Dolly both delivers on the genre’s promises and playfully subverts them. Songs like Why’d You Come in Here Lookin’ Like That, and the funky banjo Apple Jack, are fun and upbeat, while the sentiment is delivered in spades in classics like I Will Always Love You. Dolly’s voice is high and tremulous, but it certainly delivers on the emotional front.

Of the four timeless bangers, my personal favourite is her iconic duet with Kenny Rogers, Islands in the Stream. Tidy.

Country Music’s Legit Endboss demands respect, and as such I give The Very Best of Dolly Parton a highly creditable 8/10. Country Music might be an acquired taste, but everything is beautiful, in its own way.

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