Dolly Parton’s highly anticipated rock album, Rockstar, is out today (November 17).
It’s her 49th solo album and many artists like Elton John, Chris Stapleton, Miley Cyrus and others collaborated with her while she covered some of rock music's most iconic songs. She picked songs that her and her husband love because he is very big into rock and roll music and was a big inspiration to why she did the album. A highlight on the album for her is “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” because she loves Elton John, and every time they get together, they are always singing and she thought they sounded good together, so she chose to ask him to do the song on the album with him. Years ago, Parton and John sang the song “Imagine” together at the CMA Awards. Backstage they were singing old country songs, and he knew all of them. They both agreed they sounded so good together and said they would do an album together one day, but it never happened. So, he jumped right at the chance to sing on her Rockstar album.
Parton hates controversy of any kind, so when she got the news she was nominated into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, she thought she didn’t deserve it because some of the greatest rock artists haven’t been voted into it yet and she did not want to take votes away from them. She didn’t feel right about it because she’s spent her life making country music, so she told them no. When she had a better understanding that the nominee is for people's music who has influenced other artists, she felt better about it, but she felt like she was being handed something she didn’t earn. So, she announced she would record a rock album to justify her inclusion. She had always wanted to do a rock and roll album and the timing seemed perfect to do it now.
She feels like this album is some of her best work and that she chose great songs and great artists to sing with her, and she feels like she’s earned her place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She chose to name the record, Rockstar, because it’s tonged and cheek that at 77 years old she is choosing to be a rockstar and loves that she gets to leave it with her legacy.
Rockstar includes 30 songs, 9 original tracks and 21 iconic rock anthems. The first song she recorded was one of her own, “My Blue Tears” that she did with Simon Lebon because she wanted to get comfortable. She wrote that song when she was young and has recorded it a few times, and then started the rock songs, cutting “Satisfaction” second.
Parton hates to ask anyone to do anything, so when she asked the original artists to sing some of their songs with her, she was nervous. If anyone asks her to sing on anything, 99% of the time she will say yes, and if she can’t, it’s because she can’t make the time. At first, she had recorded the full album and had not thought of putting anyone on it. When she asked the artists, she wrote a note and had her manager send it to their managers. She left her number, and they all called her back, and she was so honored that so many agreed to do it. A lot of them told her stories about how they loved her music and grew up watching her on the Porter Wagoner Show. Parton has contributed to around 2,000 songs, but she can’t remember the lyrics to them all. She knows the ones she performs all the time by heart, but other ones she uses a prompter while on stage.
Parton was the first to break ground on a lot of things that are now normal in the music industry, including fashion. It wasn’t always easy at first because she would get criticism, but she would wear things that she felt comfortable in. It was her version of “country glam” or “backwoods Barbie,” as she called it. When she wrote the song “Backwoods Barbie,” it was truly herself she was singing about and felt it was more important to be herself and feel comfortable in her own skin. The criticism in the beginning of her looks did hurt her feelings, but she never let it stop her. Her best advice for people who face similar criticism is to try and forgive and not dwell on it because you have better things to do. And it’s more important of what you think of yourself and not what another think of you. If you’re true to yourself and know who you are, you’ll rise above that sting. You just have to cry about it but then move on.
The first time Parton sang on the radio she was only 10 years old and that’s when she got addicted to performing in front of an audience and got confidence that she was doing something right. It’s the same way she feels now when she’s on stage and said she never gets over that feeling. Her fans are everything to her, and she’s grateful they believe in her and it makes her feel proud.