There’s a white walled compound just off 12th Avenue South in Nashville which looks pretty unremarkable. Set back off the road on the corner of a cross street, your eye would easily miss it amongst the brighter lights of hipster eateries, pre-loved boutiques and yoga studios. There’s a church – there are always churches – nearby and, as I recall, a mosque. There’s a cool little Mexican restaurant where we’d retreat for lunch some days on song writing business. I’d just parked up the car and was joining my fellow co writers at the table making general conversation about the neighbourhood when one of our party pointed over to the walled compound with its appropriate looking adobe styled tiled roof and accompanying southwestern styling. ‘That,’ he casually informed us, ‘is the centre of Dolly Parton’s organisation. It’s where all her live gear and all her work is based.’
I suppose it had to be somewhere and it’s no surprise this is no more than a mile from Music Row itself, but nevertheless there was a small frisson of excitement at being so close to the centre of Dolly’s world. It felt a little like the day my Uncle pointed up to broadcasting house on my first visit to London and told me that’s where they look out of the window and tell you what the weather’s like today. I was impressed.
If I’d already met Dolly I think I may have been less taken with this inside info, but it may well be that I’d already had my first encounter with her. To put things in perspective however, Dolly Parton is in a rare category of her own. Not only does she continue to be the biggest female star in country music, she also manages to bestride the pop world with relative ease managing to inhabit the same world as whoever has been the streaming flavour of the last few months. This is a woman who makes records, runs book charities, funds the COVID vaccine, stars in movies, writes musicals and when she’s still got time…writes songs which people will correctly claim are some of the best of the last fifty years. Some have been so successful their royalties would finance a small Tennessee town and then some.
This week Dolly Parton turns seventy five. She shows no signs of wanting to slow down or take it easy. She’s driven to making music and continuing to use her voice to support the worthy causes she’s helped over the course of her professional life. We will celebrate her birthday by playing some great songs she’s recorded over the last fifty four years. Spoiler alert….every one is a killer.
We will also pay tribute to the remarkable career of this artist: (pic to follow)
KT Oslin died in December and we haven’t yet paid tribute to her. Remarkable for being a late starter in country music, but, as our good friend Brandy Clark pointed out on twitter at the weekend, ‘each song is like a mini movie.’
Elsewhere we have so much great new music to play too. Look out for fab cuts by Morgan Wallen, our very own Kerri Watt and Sunny War. We will also celebrate the spoken word…a little bit of rap I guess… by Tom Jones, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton herself. It’s a packed two hours and it all starts on BBC Radio Scotland at five past eight this Tuesday evening. If you can’t find us there you can listen live or any time after on BBC Sounds.