Dolly Parton Blue Smoke

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Submitted by Don Graham

Dolly Parton’s 42nd album release is fittingly titled ‘Blue Smoke’, fitting because it takes us back to where Dolly was born and bred and began pickin’ and writing her songs. She may live in Nashville now and maintain homes in Los Angeles and New York, but she grew up poor in a holler near Locust Ridge, about seven miles from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Sevierville, Tennessee, where a bronze Dolly statue graces the courthouse lawn.

The heart of that area is what the Cherokee Indians called Shakaney, or "Land of Blue Smoke," for the mist that shrouds its peaks and floats over its valleys. "I bought the old homestead in 1987 as a retreat, for family reunions, a place away from prying eyes. “

Parton  reached the pinnacle of her mainstream success in the 1980’s when she not only starred in the 1980 hit comedy 9 to 5, which marked her film debut, but she wrote and sang the title track and contributed  to its soundtrack. The title song proved to another #1 hit for Dolly and earned her an Academy Award Nomination. Parton starred in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas in 1982, which helped introduce a new generation to her song "I Will Always Love You." which would become a mega hit for Whitney Houston. The following year she scored another major smash with her duet with Kenny Rogers, "Islands in the Stream."

Around the same time, Parton branched out in another direction, opening her own theme park, Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee in 1986. The amusement park remains a popular travel destination to this day.

Over the years, Parton has enjoyed many successful collaborations. She recorded the Grammy Award-winning album Trio with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt in 1987. Parton revisited her signature song, "I Will Always Love You," as a duet with Vince Gill . In 1993, Parton teamed up with Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette for Honky Tonk Angels.

Parton has been married to Carl Dean since 1966. The couple met at a laundromat two years earlier.

In 1999 Dolly was inducted into the Country Music Hall of fame and is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Grammy Hall of Fame, the Gospel Hall of Fame and the Music City Walk of Fame.

With her latest efforts, the tunes on Blue Smoke are reminders of who Dolly Parton is and where she came from. The album  features a duet with Kenny Rogers on “You Can't Make Old Friends”  and  a new recording of “From Here to the Moon and Back” with Willie Nelson. There is a bluegrass cover of Bob Dylan’s "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right” and Bon Jovi’s “Lay Your Hands on Me” written by Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and Dolly. Other tracks include “Unlikely Angel”, “Home”, “Try” and “Lover du Jour” as well as a standout version of the traditional “Banks of the Ohio”.

Dolly Parton is one of those artists that just gets better with age. Her voice is a strong as it ever was. Still pure and believable, honest and true. Dolly has the ability to have you laughing through your tears as you accompany her on her journeys of the heart and soul. The adventures through the back roads and paved roads of her life which, as improbable as it sounds, are in many ways reflective of our own, are lasting treasures.

Dolly Parton is one of the most successful female artists in the world, not only creatively but  also as a shrewd businesswoman. To quote the lady herself “I'm not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I'm not dumb... and I also know that I'm not blonde.”

Get yourself a copy of Blue Smoke, sit back and enjoy!

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