Dolly: That song is one of my favorites on the CD and Kenny is one of my favorite people in the whole wide world. We are old friends. In fact, when they were putting the song together I understand Kenny was talking to the people writing it, and was in on writing the song and said, “Youʼve got to write this for Dolly and me, so we can have another good duet. Dolly knows me like a book and I know her like a book, so this is a perfect idea for a song for us.” I think it turned out well. AK: Who comes to mind when you listen to the song? Dolly: All of us that have old friends can relate to the song because you donʼt always have time for new ones anymore, when you are as busy as us. Itʼs nice to make a new friend now and then, but you canʼt make old friends. Of course, Kenny and I have always had that love and passion. Weʼve never been lovers, but weʼve always been loved by each other. And I think we sing well together. I am very proud of this song and this CD. AK: How have your friends impacted the course of your life? Dolly: They have totally transformed my life. I can honestly say, I would not be here today if it werenʼt for my friends. I have had the same best friend for over 60 years. I have worked with the same people for more years than I can count. Once I become friends with you, I remain intensely loyal to you forever. AK: What do you like most collaborating with Kenny? Dolly: I love Kenny. I love his voice. I never ever get tired of hearing Kenny sing. Weʼre kindred spirits and very much alike. Our sense of humor is warped and we communicate so naturally. Itʼs like I know what he is thinking, I know what heʼs feeling, even if he doesnʼt say it. Iʼll bust him on something I know heʼs thinking. I just love his voice and think we are so compatible. AK: Many people have your careers intertwined in their collective memories. You’re this iconic duo! Dolly: People think weʼve worked together for years and had one hit record after another, but we didnʼt. We had, The Islands and a couple of songs, Christmas album and toured a little, but people tag us together like we are married. Thatʼs a wonderful problem to have; a wonderful husband to have in the business. AK: What are you most proud of? Dolly: Iʼm proud of a lot of things. There are great highlights. Iʼm proud of the fact Iʼve had an opportunity, and now that Iʼm older I can say that Iʼve lived to see my dreams come true. Many people have the same dreams I do. A lot of them more talented, write better songs, sing better songs, better performers, and work just as hard and never enjoyed the success Iʼve had. Every day Iʼm grateful that Iʼve been allowed to see my dreams come true. And, Iʼm thankful to my fans. AK: Any career highlights that stand out? Dolly: Things like when I became a member of The Grand Ole Opry back in the late ʻ60s; the Kennedy Awards... things like that. When I started the Imagination Library, my literacy program, and saw that it become such a big success… there are many, many things that Iʼm very proud of and hopefully thereʼll be lots and lots more. But the biggest thing is… Iʼm like Minnie Pearl, “Iʼm just so proud to be here (Laughs)!” (Comedienne Minnie Pearlʼs famous catch-phrase was "How-w-w-DEE-E-E-E! I'm jes' so proud to be here!") AK: You told Dan Rather you liken yourself to a “show horse or a show dog.” Do you feel like you always have to be “on?” Are you in your comfort zone being the public Dolly Parton all the time? Dolly: If Iʼm in public, I am “on,” and youʼll see the Dolly Parton you expect to see. If I am in private with
my family Iʼm more relaxed, but still made up. And if I am alone, then I put on a little makeup and fix my hair just so I donʼt scare myself if I walk past a mirror. (Laughs). But to answer the bigger question... I am always Dolly Parton! AK: How is the Blue Smoke World Tour? Each tour has its own theme and culture. What is the theme of this tour? Dolly: Well itʼs an amazing feeling because I donʼt go [out] there enough, and Iʼve had fans there all the years that Iʼve been in this business. Iʼve been at this for so long... over 50 years, but for over 40 years I have had hit records in other parts of the world: Australia, Europe. So when you go [on tour] theyʼre so glad to see you because you donʼt come that often so they want to show how much they love you and appreciate you. Itʼs an electrifying experience between myself and the audience. Weʼve just had such success the last few times. I thought, while I still got the band together and still young
enough to do it, before I start thinking, “well, Iʼm too old to do this part, Iʼll do something else,” I thought letʼs just go back and do this again because they still want us to come back. AK: Many may not know you are Miley Cyrus’ godmother. Any advice you have given her on how to navigate the twists and turns of the music business? Dolly: Well, sheʼs growing, Iʼm telling you. I love her to death. She is a talented, special, sweet girl and is trying her best to grow up, and Iʼm trying my best to let her. Itʼs not my place to tell her how to live. I understand what sheʼs trying to do. Sheʼs trying to break away from many things. We just donʼt want her to grow up. You still want to go, “Oooohhh, calm down just a little bit.” AK: Why did you release this album in New Zealand and Australia first, before releasing it here in the states? Dolly: The Smoke World Tour started there, so it made more sense to release the album there first. AK: What made you decide to cover Bon Jovi’s song, “Lay Your Hands on Me”? Dolly: First time I heard the song, “Lay Your Hands on Me,” I thought it was a gospel song, or should have been. I thought, “What a wonderful idea for a gospel song.” So I held that in my head for a long time and for those who follow my career as you know Iʼll take rock songs and pop songs and do what they call covers on them. Iʼll maybe do bluegrass or kind of country, and I thought this one would lend itself to a heavy duty rock beat, but with bluegrass instruments and harmonies, in addition to having a gospel kind of choir. I decided to put it together and thought itʼd be wonderful to do on stage. AK: What did Jon Bon Jovi think of you re-imagining of his song? Dolly: I contacted Jon and Richie Sambora, who wrote the song and said “Well guys, I would like to do this as a gospel song. Would you help me out and would you mind if we did that?” And, we put it together. They are proud of it and Iʼm proud of it. Itʼs one of my favorite songs. I close the first half of my concert with it. And I get a chance to work with the audience, with “Lay Your Hands on Me.” Itʼs really inspirational; itʼs very uplifting. AK: What is your favorite way to give back to your home community in the mountains of Tennessee, and throughout the world? Is there a particular charitable cause you would like to talk about? Dolly: Imagination Library, my literacy program I started many years ago. We give children books from the time theyʼre born, once a month, until they start kindergarten so they learn to love to read. It was a program that started in my home county and then it went all over Tennessee, then throughout the United States, Canada, and now weʼre in the UK and going all over Australia. To date, weʼve given out about 60 million books and we are just growing and growing, working with United Way. AK: How do you feel about touring versus doing press when it comes to promoting an album? Dolly: You really canʼt do one without the other. The media drives sales, and the concerts drive people. So as a performer you donʼt look at them separately. You look at them together, like biscuits and gravy. Dolly Partonʼs 42nd studio album, “Blue Smoke,” is out now. Visit dollypartonentertainment.com for news and tour dates, and follow her @DollyParton. BHT Allison Kugel is an acclaimed entertainment journalist with more than 150 syndicated newsmaker interviews to her credit. She is Vice President of Public Relations and Social Media Firm, Full Scale Media. Follow @FullScale_Media.
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