Say what you like about Dolly Parton, she seems genuinely nice. A good person. Fun and funny, and no dummy. She’s a giving person, too, including several charities she’s started herself. She’s definitely on my list of “you don’t actually have to like their art to like them,” along with Mel Brooks and so forth. And along with Mel Brooks, and Martin Scorsese, she’s on my list of people I’d just love to sit and have a talk with someday, should the opportunity present itself.
Here is where I confess that, no, I’m not a huge fan of country music. I’m impressed by her musical talent—I’ve seen her playing “Yakkety Sax,” and no one capable of that is without skill, certainly. She’s been nominated for an Oscar twice. The first time, it was for “9 to 5” in the incredibly full year that was 1980. Fellow country icon Willie Nelson was up that year for “On the Road Again.” Both lost to “Fame,” not even the best of the nominees from Fame (that’s “Out Here on My Own”), and I’d never heard fifth nominee “People Alone” before. Man, the ’80s are really a golden era of popular nominees for Best Original Song, aren’t they? That was probably the last decade when a movie was likely to be both a Top 40 hit and an Oscar nominee. The second time, she lost to “It’s Hard Out There for a Pimp,” and don’t get me started.
Apparently, making Straight Talk was such an unpleasant experience for her that she essentially retired from movie acting unless she was playing herself. Which is a shame, really. She’s not an outstanding actress, but she’s definitely one of those who, if she was working within her range, was good at what she did. I grant you, that includes just being sassy and independent, which is pretty well Dolly Parton’s real personality, but so what? There are some great roles out there for sassy and independent.
Parton the woman is also incredibly straightforward about the fact that her appearance is pretty well all manmade. She says she doesn’t mind dumb blonde jokes because she’s neither dumb nor a blonde. Are her breasts hers? Yes, she says, bought and paid for. “If I build another park, it’ll probably be in Silicon Valley.” And so forth. She likes how she looks, and she plans to look that way as long as possible. And you know, if that’s what she wants, good for her!
She also wants to die onstage at 120. She says she wants to be like Bob Hope and go out still performing. It’s really beautiful to me, even if I don’t particularly care for most of her music, to know that she’s doing what she loves and will keep doing so for as long as she can. I admire that. Especially when it’s something I know I’m not as good at—I’m a musician, but I’m nowhere near on her skill level. It’s part of why I can see her ability without really caring for most of what she does.
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