Friday, March 2, 2012

Dolly Parton Sings About This Strange, Mysterious Thing They Used To Call A "Job"

Unlike Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton has pretty much always been Dolly Parton. She's always had that long blond hair. She's always had that freaky-looking make-up. She's always had those big, bouncing boobs. And although her catalog is certainly eclectic, she's always been perceived by the public as a country singer.

As a kid, I just assumed that Dolly Parton was some sort of ample-chested novelty act. Big mistake. Not only can she play the banjo, fiddle, guitar, autoharp, dulcimer, piano, and flute (!), but she's also a gifted songwriter. You know that song called "I Will Always Love You" that was a big gigantic hit for Whitney Houston and they've been playing it every five seconds since she died? Dolly Parton wrote that. Dolly Parton actually had a hit with that. Twice. But nope, all anybody will ever think about when they hear that song is poor, poor Whitney Houston.

Elvis loved "I Will Always Love You," and wanted to sing it. But Colonel Tom Parker would only let Elvis record it if Colonel Tom Parker could buy the rights to the song from Dolly. Dolly refused. Later on, Whitney Houston had the world's largest ever hit with it, and Dolly made lots of money. Sure, it would have been nice if Elvis had sung her song. On the other hand, it was probably nice to have all that money.

Although she's always been a well-known celebrity, Dolly didn't actually have too much official crossover success. In fact, she only had one major solo pop hit in the '80s. But it was a big one.

Thanks to that prominent horn section, "9 to 5" almost sounds more R&B than country - maybe with a touch of Dixieland jazz. But somehow I can't get too worked up over Billboard considering it a "country" song. Is that just because I'm so used to hearing Dolly's voice and knowing that it's the embodiment of pure Southern sass? I'd hate to be on the other end of these pointed, and even mildly feminist, lyrics:
Workin' 9 to 5,
What a way to make a livin'
Barely gettin' by
It's all takin' and no givin'
They just use your mind
And they never give you credit
It's enough to drive you
Crazy if you let it

9 to 5
For service and devotion
You would think that I
Would deserve a fair promotion
Want to move ahead
But the boss won't seem to let me
I swear sometimes that man is out to get me
Yes, Dolly, the boss man is out to get you. Even though, in reality, you oversee a vast media empire that, in addition to the songwriting catalog, includes a film and television production company, a signature line of Revlon wigs, and a Tennessee amusement park named Dollywood.

I wonder if her employees ever mutter this song under their breath. It takes a special kind of talent to sound like you're poor when you're actually rich. See: Springsteen, Bruce.


Herr Zrbo said...

This song brings back memories of hanging out at the Cutter pool.

Regarding your chastising Ms. Parton at the end there, isn't this song from the movie of the same name, also featuring Dolly? Perhaps she's singing in character, hmmm? Didn't think of that, did you?

Little Earl said...

Yeah, that was a cheap shot. I just wanted to start some shit.