Dolly Parton is as honest as the day is long, and in these days of “spinning” media image at centrifugal force, some don’t know how to take the candor. She recently got a scolding “TMI” from a showbiz reporter for explaining that she could not attend a recent press event because “that’s when I had my kidney stones.” He may not have respected that explanation, but anyone who’s ever experienced that pain can surely respect it. From her youngest memories, to her rising star relationship with Porter Wagoner, Dolly has told her truth in music. Now, her most personal chronicle of her growing years, “Coat of Many Colors,” is coming to NBC on December 10 as a holiday special, straight from the heart. The legendary lady on heels opened her heart with the ladies on December 3’s “The Talk” to describe what such a personal translation felt like.
Walking to her seat around the table, the applause was truly deafening, and it was clear that the country superstar was taken aback just a bit by the reception. She commended the co-hosts for creating an environment where ladies could “just talk” like friends, and not worried for their words becoming self-conscious. The compliment was repaid by their response of being so honored to have her on set. She was asked, following a brief clip, to sing the song, released back in October of 1971, and she did so, near flawlessly. “It’s a true story, about a coat my mother made for me, and she tried to make me feel proud about it, reminding me about Joseph from the Bible, but that’s not the way the kids at school felt about it.” Dolly emphasizes that this story “is more about my family than the song,” describing that there were nine in her family at that time, and “the kind of people who raised me, and all they taught me,” that was far beyond having money. She stresses in a recent interview with Parade that none of the “important stuff” of life is secured with money, anyway. She recalled dreaming of nothing but leaving home in those Tennessee mountains, but being so homesick for the feeling of three more in the bed, and even the little ones “who peed every night.” There were 12 children by the time she left.
Parton admits that she let her imagination play with some of her many leading men in films, never having an affair, “but at least having fun in my mind,” which still makes for good memories at 70. Husband , Carl Dean, who took Dolly as his wife at 18, keeps it all in playful perspective. He once teased that the couple’s bulldog, Popeye, was “yours and Burt’s baby” during filming of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Their union has weathered its share of media storms and hurtful speculation, like recent tales that Dolly had stomach cancer, when the kidney stones were the culprit. Parton was game for a dish and tell game of “Dolly’s Partners,” sharing snipets with her many friends and co-stars. She wishes only the best for Miley Cyrus, who she feels is still “finding her way to be a great artist,” and she closed her stay remembering a hot day shooting Steel Magnolias, recalling how the young Smokey Mountain girl longed to be a star, “so I’m not about to bitch about it now.” Nobody puts things with better Dolly directness.