Ever since she emerged as a country star in the '60s, Dolly Parton has inspired everyone from upstart musicians to established names to sit down with a guitar and write their truth.
In the following 12 instances, either Parton's sincerity and style or the characters living in her musical multiverse directly impacted the lyrics of country songs.
"It's the apology so many spouses deserve, but never get," Cam said. "The other woman is coming forward to break the news to the wife about an affair, respecting her enough to have that hard conversation, once she realized he was married. Because everyone should be able to decide their own path in life, based on the truth. Women especially should do this for each other, since our self-worth can still be so wrapped up in our partners. And in true country fashion, I've set the whole raw story to upbeat music, so you can dance while you process it all."
"Hungover at Dollywood," Catherine the Great
"Dollywood" is a common song title, used by groups ranging from twee pop giants Tullycraft to Aesop Rock and Rob Sonic collaboration Hail Mary Mallon. While those songs have seemingly nothing to do with Parton, Catherine the Great's "Hungover at Dollywood" is easily the quirkiest example of an artist questioning how the country great might react to the situation at hand.
"You Can Have Him Jolene," Chapel Hart
Country trio Chapel Hart joins Cam in offering a different perspective on "Jolene." The group figures that the sorry excuse for a husband in the Parton original and its title character deserve each other.
"What Would Dolly Do," Kristin Chenoweth
Musical theater mainstay Kristin Chenoweth sounds more like Margo Price than Liza Minelli on one of multiple selections that asks "What Would Dolly Do." In this case, the song reflects mutual appreciation, as Parton would love to see Chenoweth star in a Broadway musical about the country singer's life.
Chenoweth's song has been covered by one of Northern Ireland's preeminent Parton fanatics, Kerry Fearon.
"Dolly Would You Pardon Me," Christina Christian
Christina Christian joins the chorus of talented women asking "What Would Dolly Do" while hoping that her own path from small-town dreamer to rhinestone-bedazzled show-stealer deserves Parton's stamp of approval.
"Dolly Would," The Dryes
Husband and wife duo Katelyn and Derek Drye ask that now-familiar question ("WWDD") throughout this release from 2021. Its clap-along energy brings a camp meeting feel to a song about a woman who's guided by her spiritual values.
"I Fell in Love With Dolly Parton," Sherwin Linton
Sherwin Linton, a veteran performer known as "mid-America's country music legend," tells the story of a daydreamer whose appreciation for Parton's talents and charisma leaves him feeling like he's fallen for a woman who'll never know that he exists: even if he someday graces the Grand Ole Opry stage.
"What Would Dolly Do?," Tori Martin
In the face of hometown judgment and sudden life changes, Tori Martin finds comfort in hearing a Parton classic on the radio. It's a reminder that for decades now, rising singer-songwriters with Nashville stardom in their sights have surely longed to pick Parton's brain for some of her salt-of-the-Earth knowledge.
"What Would Dolly Do?," Gaby Michel
Folk singer-songwriter Gaby Michel doesn't just fall back on our frequently asked question while examining the state of the world. She answers it: Dolly would do the right thing.
"What Would Dolly Do," The Pudding Chômeur
Add Montreal-based folk duo The Pudding Chômeur to our long (and likely incomplete) list of acts contemplating "WWDD."
"What Would Dolly Do," Side Piece
Side Piece, a collective of women who are side musicians for top country stars, joined others in asking "What Would Dolly Do" with this 2021 ode to a "Coat of Many Colors" that's a flag worth saluting.
"I'm Gonna Be a Country Queen," Tiny Tim
During Tiny Tim's '80s attempt at Nashville stardom, the "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" singer reckoned he'd have a better shot at impressing Music Row if he followed Parton's fashion tips.
"WWDD," Lainey Wilson
Lainey Wilson celebrates Parton's benevolent heart and Golden Rule-guided way of living without losing sight of the cheeky humor that makes her hero so widely loved.
"I don't know anyone who don't love Dolly," Wilson said in a press release from 2020. "From her sense of humor, to her look, to her songwriting, to her singing, to how she has such an incredible giving heart, to how she's an awesome businesswoman...Dolly does everything just a little better with a little bow on top. Dolly is an international icon and role model for a lot of folks around the world, so it's an easy song for a lot of people to relate to."
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