Guest post by Misty Hedrick
America’s sweetheart turns seventy-five on Tuesday, January 19. Proving herself one of the hardest working women in show business even during the pandemic, Dolly Parton stands in a class all her own:
Old Flames Can’t Hold a Candle to Her
Step aside, Mozart. Out of the way, Beethoven. Mozart composed 600 works, while Beethoven composed 722. Impressive, sure. But nothing compared to Dolly Parton. Maybe their hair wasn’t high enough; as Dolly says, “The higher the hair, the closer to God.” Parton is one of the most prolific songwriters not just in our time, but in all history. Billboard recently credited Dolly with a catalog of “at least 5,000 works.” More than a songwriter, Dolly also writes poetry, screenplays, and Broadway musicals, and she has starred in hit movies like 9 to 5 and Steel Magnolias. With that body of work added to chart-topping hits in each of the last five decades, it’s been argued that Dolly could be one of the greatest musical geniuses of all time. I mean, who else could have written Jolene and I Will Always Love You the same day?
Workin’ 9 to 5
Dolly is a business genius. Just ask the lawyers and accountants she fired back in 1986 after they refused to support her desire to purchase a theme park. Complete with her own Chasing Rainbows museum and a replica of the one-bedroom log cabin where she spent her childhood, the award-winning park she created boasts a bald-eagle sanctuary, a craftsmen’s village, and about forty rides and roller coasters. Once known as Silver Dollar City, Dollywood now attracts more than 4 million visitors a year straight into Dolly’s hometown. Dollywood also provides jobs for more than 4,000 people, as well as helping to expand job growth in the surrounding towns of Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg.
Although Dolly makes frequent visits to the theme park, you won’t find her riding the roller coasters. Besides suffering from motion sickness, she jokes that she has too much to lose, like her hair and her shoes. Dolly also owns her own publishing company. She maintains the rights to her song catalog, once turning down Elvis’s request to sing I Will Always Love You because his manager insisted on owning the publishing rights. As Southern Living once reported, “She takes the business of being Dolly very seriously.”