I have always loved country music. I know, not everyone shares my opinion, but something about it just makes me happy. Country music makes me think of simpler times, enjoying relationships with your family, learning to appreciate the small things. It reminds me of how I grew up, and why I love living in the south. Arguably the queen of country music is Dolly Parton. This is the part where if you argued with me, I would set up one of those folding plastic tables like the guy from all the Facebook memes and hang a poster on the front that says, “Dolly is the queen of country music. Change my mind.”
The other day I was talking about my love of country music with My Friend, and he says, “I just don’t get it. Like that song ‘Jolene.’ It’s just so whiny. Why does she sit there and whine? She should just go beat that girl up and get it over with.” At the time I laughed, but later on I thought, ya know, he kind of has a point.
So I did what I always do in times of uncertainty and asked Christina Yang. I love her because she always takes these questions seriously. She says to me, “Because Dolly is our southern queen and we just don’t question her.” This cracked me up, because I’m pretty sure it’s true! Never once has it crossed my mind that Jolene was a whiny song. I don’t judge, I just belt out the chorus. So then I’m thinking about how I’m pretty sure Christina Yang is the wisest person I know, and then that leads to my wondering what it is about Dolly that makes her so fantastic.
For some people, it’s her music. For some people it’s that they love to judge her for the outlandish outfits and crazy “assets” she’s so proud of. But for me, it’s her movies. Dolly Parton movies bring me joy. As a kid, I loved watching “Smoky Mountain Christmas” which was a made for TV movie. I still watch it every December. I found one of those cheap-looking copies at the Christmas show one year that someone probably made with Memorex disc, and it’s one of my prized possessions. It’s not Christmas unless I get to watch this movie.
Then there are the truly iconic movies. 9 to 5, which was one of my favorite songs long before I was old enough to appreciate the comedy in the movie. Probably my favorite part in that one is when Dolly is telling off her womanizing boss and she says, “I’ll tell you one thing. If you ever say another word about me or make another indecent proposal, I’m going to get that gun of mine, and I’m gonna change you from a rooster to a hen with one shot!” Dolly makes us all realize we should stand up for ourselves. And everyone loves Steel Magnolias. But my absolute favorite is Straight Talk. Mom loved it too.
In Straight Talk, Dolly is known for being “Dr. Shirlee” after being mistaken for a radio psychologist when she was really supposed to be a receptionist. The advice she hands out is just so good that everyone loves her, and then she’s stuck pretending to be someone she’s not. The single most fantastic line in that movie is when she’s giving a caller whose feeling sorry for themselves advice, and she says “Get down off the cross, honey, someone else needs the wood!” I smile even typing it now.
So, in short, Dolly is fantastic. I don’t know why she whined for three and a half minutes instead of beating that woman up, but I do know I will continue to belt out the chorus loud and proud.
What are your favorite Dolly-isms?