Friday, July 12, 2024

Dolly Parton gives inside look at new Dollywood attraction, shares why it makes her


Dollywood recently unveiled its latest attraction, The Dolly Parton Experience, celebrating the life, career and fashion of the country music legend. The new exhibits opened as Dollywood was named Tripadvisor’s No. 1 theme park in the U.S. and among their top 10 attractions worldwide in 2024.

The exhibits inside Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, showcase Parton’s iconic costumes, including her famous high heels. 

“I’m a big shoe person ’cause I’m so short,” Parton joked in an interview that aired Tuesday on “CBS Mornings.”

Visitors can engage interactively by “Dressing Dolly,” choosing Parton’s wardrobe and selecting a guitar for her.

“I dress her every day,” Parton said with a laugh as she strolled through the attraction.

Parton said she had the idea of the experience for years, and now that it has come to life, she feels overwhelmed by the exhibit’s scope. 

“You know how they say sometimes that when you start to die, your whole life flashes before you?” she said. “Well, it about killed me going through there ’cause I got so emotional.”

Songwriting legacy

Parton’s songwriting, which began in her childhood, is a central theme of the exhibit. It’s something she has always believed in, with encouragement from her mother, who was fascinated by Parton’s songwriting capabilities. Parton says her skill with the pen is her most important.

“I take myself more serious as a songwriter than anything else. And if I had to give up every other part of the business, I would choose to be a writer,” she said. “Because that’s my therapist. My guitar is my friend.”

The music icon still gets excited when she comes up with a good lyric. Sometimes, when Parton thinks of a good line, she feels it must be divine inspiration. That was the case for one of her most famous lines. “Tumble out of bed and I stumble to the kitchen, pour myself a cup of ambition,” the opening lines from her 1980 hit “9 to 5” came to her quickly.

“That just rolled right out. I hadn’t even thought about that,” she said. “When I thought of that one, I went, wow, that’s – that’s as good as this cup of coffee’s going to be.”

Notable career moments

Parton was determined to make it in the music industry. Despite initial resistance from Nashville, Parton said her perseverance never wavered. 

“Giving up ain’t in me,” she asserted.

The exhibit features notable moments from her career, including her collaboration with Porter Wagoner starting in 1967. Her appearances on his TV show significantly boosted her popularity. She became so popular, she said, that Wagoner didn’t want her to leave, but Parton had other plans and wrote him a song – “I Will Always Love You.”

When she played, “I Will Always Love You,” for him, he was moved to tears and told her it was the best song she had ever written. He agreed to let her go if he could produce it, and she did.

Parton later heard that Elvis Presley wanted to record the song, but his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, demanded all the publishing rights. She refused. 

“I said, ‘Well, it’s gonna be the biggest heartbreak of my life. You can’t have it. I can’t do that ’cause this is my most important copyright,'” said Parton. Priscilla Presley later told Parton that Elvis was singing it to her as they walked down the courthouse steps during their divorce.

Beyoncé’s take on “Jolene”

Parton’s music continues to resonate across generations, with her songs covered by artists like Beyoncé. Parton said she’s proud of Beyoncé’s interpretation of “Jolene” on her latest album, “Cowboy Carter.”

“I was just assuming it was gonna be that you know, ‘Jolene’ the traditional way. But when I heard it, I thought, ‘Wow boy, she put a lot into that.’ And that was a great album of hers, by the way,” said Parton.

As Parton reflected on her career, she expressed hope for more projects in the future, including the Broadway musical based on her life story. 

“I’m on my last chapter because of my age and everything, but I want [it] to really be the best one,” she said. “I want the story to end really well.”



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