Better Days: A Q&A With Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton has been an icon for so many years, it’s likely some fans forget that she writes the majority of the songs she sings.
Speaking from her home in Nashville, Dolly talked about the songs on her new album Better Day, the “Better Day” tour she launched July 17 in Knoxville, Tennessee, and just what she hopes fans take away from the songs on this album.
“We try to have something that could be on the radio. It is difficult for some older artists these days, says the country legend. “You really have to [record] what they play. Some of these songs have a more “Keith Urban” feel than some of my other songs. But all these songs aren’t that modern. Some I started writing years ago.”
When you were planning this album, what did you hope it would be?
It’s such a sad time for so many people today, I just wanted the songs to tell people that things may seem bad right now, but you can look ahead to a “Better Day.” You know, for as long as I can remember…there are all these doomsday sayers waiting for the end of time. That’s been going on forever. I just wanted to have an album that would lift the human spirit.
You said the songs on this album are more contemporary than some of your others songs, but I heard a lot of traditional country in them.
I think I was talking about the first single and it being a little more modern with the arrangement on that, kind of up to date like what Keith Urban would have on the radio. Some of the songs are more mainstream. We try to get on the radio and that’s hard for some older artists. You really have to [record] what they play these days. Some of these songs I wrote a few years ago, so they aren’t all that modern. I wrote them all except I co-wrote, “Country is as Country Does” with my good friend Mac Davis. We had great fun writing that, and I think that’s another potential single later on.
It sounds like you wrote the song “The Sacrifice” as an answer to fans questioning if your career is what you gave up in your life.
I did. I truly think I feel no different than you or anyone who starts out with a goal. I think the people who are most sincere, true professionals that are most likely to succeed, are willing to make that sacrifice of time, family, health, vacations, and all the things other people enjoy. [That's especially important] in the early days, when you have to sacrifice to keep the momentum going. I look back now and I thank God every day I saw that dream come true. People ask me all the time if I would do it again and I say “Yes!” One day I was just inspired to write the song. As a songwriter I am very proud of it, even more than as a singer.
Is it true that your husband has only seen you in concert once?
Yes! I keep saying to him ‘You’ve got to come and see this new show.’ And he keeps saying ‘Well, we’ll see.’ God love him.
So you’ve got a huge tour launched behind this album. It must get tiresome to tour sometimes.
Not at all! It’s so exciting. The tour starts…in the States, then we go to Europe, then we come back [to the States] and then we go to Europe.
Still, it must be difficult to keep singing songs such as “Coat of Many Colors” and “Jolene,” because you’ve done them so many times.
No. First of all, I love those songs. They’re fun to play and fans love them. When I tour, there are different faces every night. Everything always stays fresh because of them.