Reviews for Dolly Parton, Songteller

by Dolly Parton with Robert K Oermann

Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A hefty retrospective on the six-decade career of a country music superstar who tells stories in song. Parton has been mining her East Tennessee roots for crowd-pleasing songs ever since she wrote her first tune, about a corncob doll, at around the age of 6. With Nashville-based music journalist Oermann, she serves up her highest-grade ore in a handsomely produced collection of the lyrics to more than 175 of her songs, some in print for the first time. All songs have brief introductions on topics such as when and how Parton wrote them, and longer pieces show her evolution from “a hard-core country artist” with a “girlish soprano tremolo” to a multifaceted star also at ease with pop, gospel, and bluegrass. Moving chronologically through the artist’s life, the book reveals her abiding passions with thematic juxtapositions of songs, which range from “9 to 5” to the elegiac ballads “Jolene” (her song “most performed by others”) and “I Will Always Love You” (“For what she did with that, I will always love you, Whitney Houston”). Hundreds of color and black-and-white photos of Parton and others display her over-the-top tastes in fashion and wigs faithful to her motto: “Leave no rhinestone unturned.” Parton conceals more than she reveals about her 50-plus-year marriage to the reclusive Carl Dean and whether she’s had affairs (“Well, I don’t admit or deny anything”). She is frank, however, about professional setbacks. For example, when she was starting out in the industry, every major record company on Nashville’s Music Row turned her down as a vocalist. In the final pages, Parton sounds a poignant note in the lyrics to a song written with Kent Wells and released during the pandemic. The song, “When Life Is Good Again,” is the hymnlike lament of a repentant sinner who vows to change “when life is good again." A splashy, entertaining guide to the lyrics of one of the most popular musicians of our time. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A hefty retrospective on the six-decade career of a country music superstar who tells stories in song. Parton has been mining her East Tennessee roots for crowd-pleasing songs ever since she wrote her first tune, about a corncob doll, at around the age of 6. With Nashville-based music journalist Oermann, she serves up her highest-grade ore in a handsomely produced collection of the lyrics to more than 175 of her songs, some in print for the first time. All songs have brief introductions on topics such as when and how Parton wrote them, and longer pieces show her evolution from a hard-core country artist with a girlish soprano tremolo to a multifaceted star also at ease with pop, gospel, and bluegrass. Moving chronologically through the artists life, the book reveals her abiding passions with thematic juxtapositions of songs, which range from 9 to 5 to the elegiac ballads Jolene (her song most performed by others) and I Will Always Love You (For what she did with that, I will always love you, Whitney Houston). Hundreds of color and black-and-white photos of Parton and others display her over-the-top tastes in fashion and wigs faithful to her motto: Leave no rhinestone unturned. Parton conceals more than she reveals about her 50-plus-year marriage to the reclusive Carl Dean and whether shes had affairs (Well, I dont admit or deny anything). She is frank, however, about professional setbacks. For example, when she was starting out in the industry, every major record company on Nashvilles Music Row turned her down as a vocalist. In the final pages, Parton sounds a poignant note in the lyrics to a song written with Kent Wells and released during the pandemic. The song, When Life Is Good Again, is the hymnlike lament of a repentant sinner who vows to change when life is good again." A splashy, entertaining guide to the lyrics of one of the most popular musicians of our time. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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