In less than a week after a 5.4 earthquake hit Los Angeles, there suddenly came another unstoppable, unexplainable force of nature - Miss Dolly Parton, performing at the Greek Theater!!!
In all the years that I've been a Dolly fan, I always managed to somehow miss her live shows. Well, this time I was not gonna let her get away. Finally, 32 years after I first discovered Dolly on her first variety series, (the syndicated DOLLY, which aired Saturday nights at 7:30PM on Channel 5 WNEW Metromedia in New York from 1976-77) I was finally going to see her perform LIVE!
Well, perform is an understatement because Dolly transcends just about any other performer I've ever seen (well, maybe not kd lang or Liza, but pretty damn close). It's hard to describe what exactly it is about her. Maybe it's her angelic voice, her honest folksy charm, her self-depricating humor, her sweet homespun storytelling, her ability to play almost any instrument, her heartfelt songwriting or her endless energy and devotion to making her audience happy. Dolly gave us exactly what we wanted: the best of her old hits, a sampling of her new stuff and enough crowd-pleasing antics to keep almost everyone entertained. What's not to love?
Suffice to say, I had a great time, despite the two drunken dancing lesbians who partially impaired my view and the elderly couple who sat in front of me completely stone-faced with their arms crossed the entire show. They looked like they were trapped in hell! I guess their daughter bought them tickets and they thought it was going to be an all-Republican audience. They really seemed annoyed when Dolly made fun of McCain's age. The rest of the crowd was a mix of drunk gays, drunk lesbians and drunk white trash - much like Dolly herself.
Over the years, I've enjoyed most of Dolly's recordings and TV appearances. Her films 9 TO 5 (soon to be a Broadway-bound musical - watch for my review next month!) and BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS (see my review here) are great fun to watch. STRAIGHT TALK would have been better without the wooden James Woods. I remember liking STEEL MAGNOLIAS, but not enough to ever see it again. Maybe someday. I've never seen RHINESTONE, a situation I need to rectify soon. I also regret never watching her one-season 1987 ABC variety hour, also called DOLLY. Not sure why I avoided it, but I recall the critics being pretty harsh. Hopefully this series will turn up on dvd one day.
I've carried this Dolly Dollar in my wallet for 8 years since my trip to Dollywood, it reminds me that somewhere out there among the Red States is a "dry county" where large women and their unexplainably handsome husbands suck down fried green tomatoes while riding rickety rollercoasters and listening to a cacophony of Dolly 's greatest hits. My favorite memory of my trip to Pigeon Forge, Tenn. is visiting a supermarket, where I saw a one-armed man carrying an oversize package of diapers with his one arm, while smoking a cigarette. I thought to myself - that's real dedication.
Anyways, back to Dolly. She looked great, sounded fantastic and was full of so positive energy, it was almost a spiritual experience. Of course she told many of the same breast and plastic surgery jokes we've been hearing her tell for years - but as long as she tells 'em, we'll be laughing with her. The best joke of the evening was when asked "What would you like for people to say about you 100 years from now?" Her reply was "Damn, she looks good!" I Love Dolly Parton!
PS - A compilation of episodes of DOLLY (the 1976-77 version) is now available on dvd from MPI Video as DOLLY PARTON & FRIENDS. Also, a great (and positively creepy) documentary about obsessive Dolly fans called FOR THE LOVE OF ONLY is worth seeing. I swear I am not one of the fans profiled.