Essential Dolly Parton - Dolly Parton

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Essential Dolly Parton - Dolly Parton

1 CD(s) - Country - Label: BMG - Distributor: Essential Music/Gem Logistics, AMD/Universal Music - Released: 21/07/2003 - 828765420129

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Review of "Essential Dolly Parton - Dolly Parton"

published 21/11/2005 | VC81
Member since : 30/11/-0001
Reviews : 50
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About me :
Pro Many of Dolly's greatest hits are included
Cons Only 21 songs, so some hits are missing
very helpful
Quality and consistency of tracks
Cover / Inlay Design and Content
Value for Money

""Pour Myself A Cup Of Ambition""

Dolly Parton is one of the most successful country singers of all time. Whilst staying true to the music of her Smokey Mountain roots she has also crossed over into the realms of pop as well as acting, and her catchy tunes and heartfelt lyrics have appealed to people from all walks of life throughout the four decades of her career.


"I'm proud of my humble beginnings, the fact that dreams can come true for just simple people, ordinary people. I hope that I'm an inspiration."

Dolly Rebecca Parton was born the fourth of twelve children in 1946 to a mother married at fifteen and a moon-shiner sharecropping father, who paid the doctor who attended Dolly's birth with a bag of cornmeal. She grew up in a run-down one room mountain cabin in Locust Ridge, Tennessee, soaking up the influences of her country surroundings. She was taught gospel music and the old mountain songs of Appalachia by her mother and grandmother, and began writing her own songs as a child, performing in churches and theatres.

By age 11 she was appearing on Knoxville TV, and at 13 she recorded her first single, which helped her get a spot at the Grand Ole Opry. In 1964, Dolly graduated high school - the first member of her family to do so - and went to Nashville the very next day to fulfil her dream of becoming a star. After working a number of part-time jobs and wedding Carl Dean, to whom she remains happily married, Dolly initially became a successful songwriter then landed her first No. 1 in 1967, a duet with Porter Wagoner, "Please Don't Stop Loving Me".

Her rise to stardom was meteoric. In 1976 Parton became the first female country artist to star in her own show. Two years later, Jane Fonda deemed her perfect for the role of Doralee, a feisty Southern secretary, in the movie "9 to 5" launching her successful film career and giving her the status of a true superstar. More films followed, along with the establishment of her hugely popular theme park Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN, and her chain of popular Dixie Stampede restaurants.

In 1986, she was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. She also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Nashville Star Walk, and was deservedly awarded the Living Legend Medal by the U.S. Library of Congress in 2004 for her contributions to the cultural heritage of the U.S., followed by the National Medal Of Arts in 2005.

Her songs are rich with the heritage of her upbringing, with lyrics combining autobiographical and folklore elements, and the music drawing on her simple bluegrass, gospel and mountain roots.


1. Jolene (1973) - written by Parton. Pleading wavering vocals beautifully harmonise over a simple rhythm begging Jolene "please don't take my man". An absolute classic, and Parton's only UK top ten solo hit.

2. 9 to 5 (1980) - written by Parton. Funky rhythm, upbeat melody and powerful gospel choir backed chorus about "waiting for the day your ship'll come in". Something most people can relate to and a real foot tapper. Written as the title track for the movie of the same name, this song earned Parton Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations and two Grammy awards.

3. Here You Come Again (1977) - written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. A heavier background to this track, with keyboard and guitar shadowing the melody. This heralded Dolly's shift into the pop world with a No3 hit. "You're messin' up my mind and fillin' up my senses."

4. I Will Always Love You (1973) - written by Parton. The biggest song of Dolly's career was written to signal the end of her seven year partnership with Porter Wagoner, and the masterful farewell was a No1 hit twice for Parton (the second time when it featured in her 1982 movie "The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas") and once in a lengthy warbling version for Whitney Huston. Elvis was also interested in recording it, but his demands to also be assigned half the publishing rights for the privilege put Dolly off the idea, saving her millions of dollars in royalties. Gentle swaying guitar is fronted by pure wavering vocals. The original and by far the best.

5. Joshua (1970) - written by Parton. An outstanding powerful, brassy southern ditty about a loner living in a shack by the railroad track, in a very similar vein to Johnny Cash's "Boy Name Sue", with a trilling yodelling chorus.

6. Coat Of Many Colours (1971) - written by Parton. Soothing pure vocals tell the charming autobiographical tale harking back to Dolly's impoverished youth, with her Momma sewing together donated rags to make the coat of many colours of which Dolly was so proud.

7. Please Don't Stop Loving Me (with Porter Wagoner) (1974) - written by Parton and Wagoner. "You bring me the sunshine when none is in sight". The pair take turns with verses of mutual admiration, coming together for a harmonised chorus. A great country beat number.

8. The Bargain Store (1974) - written by Parton. "The Bargain Store" attracted a great deal of controversy and was banned by some radio stations on release. It tells the tale of a beleaguered fallen woman hoping for love, even though all she has to offer is used goods. Dolly holds the tune with strong vocals, over a simple backing. "Love is all you need to purchase all the merchandise."

9. It's All Wrong, But It's All Right (1977) - written by Parton. Where you have to really read between the lines to glean the message from the supposedly horrifying "Bargain Store", Dolly doesn't hold back the message at all with this one. Country ballad style, with soaring melodies. "Just close your eyes and fantasise."

10. Heartbreaker (1978) - written by Wolfert & Sager. The next four ballads veer away into the world of schmaltzy mainstream pop. Dolly's vocals are still excellent with pure tone and soaring range, but even though her country roots are still evident, the tunes are more reminiscent of the cabaret in a back street wine bar than what she does so well.

11. I Really Got The Feeling (1978) - written by Billy Vera.

12. You're The Only One (1979) - written by Sager & Roberts.

13. Starting Over Again (1979) - written by Summer & Sudano.

14. To Know Him Is To Love Him (1986) - The inclusion of this Trio remake of this 1950s song, heralds Dolly's return to a more traditional sound and her acoustic roots. The spectacular spiritual, with gentle lilting guitar, is performed in perfect harmony from three superb female voices - Parton, Linda Ronstadt & Emmylou Harris.

15. Old Flames Can't Hold A Candle To You (1979) - written by Sebert & Moffatt. Back to a traditional country sound, with Dolly backed by a male voice in the chorus and a simple beat.

16. But You Know I Love You (1980) - written by Mike Settle. A flute leads into this track, and country harmonised vocals over a more modern electric beat. Luckily the country flavour outweighs the 1980's funkiness.

17. Tennessee Homesick Blues (1984) - written by Parton. A good ol' swinging bluegrass number, opens with a good ol' yodel, about Dolly being called "back to my Smokey Mountain home" complete with fiddles and a whining guitar. "Lord have mercy on a country girl."

18. Why'd You Come In Here Lookin' Like That (1988) - written by Carlisle & Thomas. Preceding the contemporary rocking country sound which has come through in modern times, this is all strong vocals, twanging guitars and funky harmonicas. An early template for Shania Twain.

19. Love Is Like A Butterfly (1974) - written by Parton. An early sound when the purity of voice was what made a song great not the technical abilities of the backing group or the technicians. " A rare and gentle thing."

20. Islands In The Stream (1983) - written by the Gibbs. "Sail away with me to another world….and we'll rely on each other uh-huh" The pumping anthemic duet from two outstanding country artists, Parton and Kenny Rogers, with Rogers' rasp perfectly coupled with Parton's sparkle. Is there a better song for karaoke?

21. Early Morning Breeze (2003) remix by Bent feat. B.J. Cole bonus track. A peculiar funky mix of electronic country sounds behind Parton's strangely haunting vocals. Similar in its strangeness to the modern treatment Elvis has received of late.


I have a lot of respect for Dolly Parton as an artist and as a personality. She is an extraordinary musical talent, a dynamic and charismatic woman, and a very sincere person, which all adds to the appeal of her natural Southern charm. As her audience we not only respond to her superbly penned and performed music, but also to her famous down to earth sense of humour and ability to take herself lightly, with comments about her extraordinary physical attributes such as, "I wanted to be the first woman to burn her bra, but it would have taken the fire department four days to put it out." and "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."

This immensely likeable manner also comes through in her music. Her expressive unmistakable soprano and unique narratives are rightly celebrated in this collection. We travel through her career experiencing the wide range of musical styles which are blended to form her unique sound, from folk to gospel, from early country to blues. The order of the tracks is not chronological, but this does not matter as the songs all follow on neatly, often linked by musical genre.

The first half of the album is undoubtedly the best, featuring earlier songs mainly written by Parton herself, allowing the whole of her genius to shine through. These magnificent compositions are short, generally under three minutes, and are so perfect they leave you gasping for more. From Track 10 "Heartbreaker" there are four songs, which in my opinion were not Dolly's greatest, not because she under performs, but because they are mediocre schmaltzy songs, which do not utilise her talents to the extremes they are capable of. The album recovers at Track 14, the excellent "To Know Him Is To Love Him", and the end section sees a definite return to the country style we know and love Dolly for.

This is the only Dolly Parton album that I own, and while it contains most of the hits I know of hers, for the more discerning Dolly devotee, this may be a bit of a superficial collection. However, despite the small dip in the middle, it is a great album for the casual fan and those who want to enjoy the best of Dolly's hits, and also as an introduction to her music.

The songs for this album were hand picked by Dolly herself. In the album sleeve she states, "I'm as proud of this as anything in my whole career. In fact, it's like having my whole career summed up and wrapped in a neat little package. I hope you enjoy the joy and tears, the miles and trials that I've put into it. Thank you for a wonderful life."

With that endorsement from the great lady herself, I can only echo her sentiments that this is an excellent compilation and very worth possessing.


Released 3 June 2003

Tracks are re-mastered from the originals.

All lyrics are available at

Running time: 67 minutes

£5.97 at

© 2005 V.L. Collyer

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Comments on this review

  • Jenb6jf published 14/11/2006
    I want the album even more now ive read this lol.
  • MAFARRIMOND published 28/04/2006
    Such a talented lady. Maureen
  • weetoon published 18/04/2006
    I have this album and I love it, even though I don't usually like country music. There's much snobbery about Dolly Parton, but to me she is a great talent. Excellent review.
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1 CD(s) - Country - Label: BMG - Distributor: Essential Music/Gem Logistics, AMD/Universal Music - Released: 21/07/2003 - 828765420129

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EAN: 828765420129


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