Dolly’s world comes to Toronto
Iconic country music performer in town for a rare concert appearance celebrating her 70th birthday and 43rd album
Toronto’s Molson Amphitheatre will be alive with the sounds of old school country music on Sept. 9 when the grand dame of Nashville, Dolly Parton, hits town following the release of a new album of love songs dubbed Pure & Simple.
The album sounds like vintage Dolly. When you went in the recording studio, is that what you had in mind?
Yes it was. When I decided to do a tour called Pure &
Simple, we stripped it down musically. And I thought, well, we need a CD, and it needs to be called Pure & Simple. And I thought, well, everything on it should not be overly produced or overdone. So I wrote all these love songs, and I wanted to purposefully do it kind of like how it was in my early days. With the new sounds and technology, it sounds really good, but we really captured that feeling, I think, of what my early sessions were.
On the song “I’m Sixteen,” you sing you are “Never old unless you choose to be.” That is vintage Dolly right there, isn’t it?
Yes, it is. That’s one of my favourites. I wrote that because of a relationship of one of my sisters. She had a couple of bad relationships, and she just thought it wasn’t meant for her to have true love, and she’d just kind of given up. And all of sudden, she met someone. They’re both in their 60s, and they just absolutely fell head over heels in love, and they just act like they are 16 years old. And I knew from my life how I was at 16, doing all that skinnydipping and riding around the Tasty Freeze and all that, so that was a fun and easy song to write that was inspired by someone else but that I could put a lot of myself in as well.
Anything in particular you do to just stay feeling young other than love?
Well, I work. I have a good attitude. I have a lot of young little nieces and nephews. And I think it helps you feel and stay young to surround yourself with a lot of children. So you pick up on their little energies and thoughts, and it kind of keeps you in tune. And so I have a good attitude.… I have a happy heart, and I want things to be good, and when they’re not, it hurts me. But I work hard at trying to set things right if I can so I can get back to feeling good, so I can help other people feeling good.
What would you say to or warn your younger self about at the beginning of your career?
Well, I think you really need to pace yourself. I would say you need to brace yourself and pace yourself. And don’t wear yourself out. Just kind of do what you know that you should do. Do as much as you can. Don’t try and do more than that and don’t burn yourself out. Don’t burn that candle down before other people get to see the glow. I really think that you should be true to yourself, true to your music and your basic principles and values and just buckle up and go for it.
Did you feel pressure to look a certain way in your career?
I’ve stayed true to myself. I had a basic look. And I patterned my look after the town tramp in my hometown. I thought she was beautiful even though she was overdone. And I wasn’t a natural beauty, so that was beauty to me. So I just feel comfortable with the way I dress, and I’ve never been uncomfortable with myself. If I’m comfortable with me, other people seem to be comfortable with me. I know I look artifical, but as I’ve often said, I like to feel I’m totally real where it counts.
Do you still love this as much as the first time you performed?
Yes, I love it as much. I really can’t tell you how much I love to do it now and how important it is. I want to do this forever, and I recognize the number of my age, and so I think I haven’t got as much time as I used to have, so I want to make the most of every single minute. I don’t want to lose a thing, and I’ll never retire. I hope to drop dead in the middle of a song onstage or whatever one of these days in the future. But I do love it. I love it even more because time is precious.