Could you ever imagine that Dolly Parton has been making hits out of heartfelt songs for 45 years now? And that even though the Queen of Country maintains a home inLos Angeles, she just made her first-ever appearance at the Hollywood Bowl?
It was a dazzling, all-Dolly night in which the beloved singer came out right on time and with just a brief intermission and one costume change worked her musical magic until late in the evening.
Parton is touring in support of a new album. In addition to performing her crowd-pleasing huge hits and her take on several classic rock songs, including a banjo driven bluegrass rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” she introduced some of the numbers from it to warm response from the sold-out crowd, the second of two such nights.
Some of the songs sounded like instant classics, like the upbeat. “Together You and I,” a pop/country crossover tune from the new album, which is entitled “Better Day.”
But Parton did a lot more than sing–and we are not talking about the accusation from an LA Times report that she was lip syncing. (It certainly didn’t sound that way in our section.)
She told stories about growing up inTennessee’sAppalachian Mountainsin a large family struggling to make ends meet, but with parents who loved and adored her, and all her 11 brothers and sisters.
She also joked about her appearance, saying it cost a lot of money to “look this cheap” and made allusions to her wig and to having had work done.
Whatever she said, the crowd seemed to be ultra-receptive to her messages– and to her music. The 2 1/2 hour set included Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man,” “Walking on Sunshine,” “Coat of Many Colors,” “Tennessee Mountain Home,” River Deep, Mountain High” and a haunting version of “Little Sparrow” in which she performed with two of her backup vocalists.
One of the many musical highlights: “Jolene.” She even tried her hand at rapping in a tribute to her new friend, Queen Latifah, who many thought would take the stage with Parton, but appeared only in a clip from their upcoming movie, “Joyful Noise.”
Here’s a sample: “She’s the queen of her own hood… but I’m the queen of Dollywood!… I don’t hip and I don’t hop… I’d black both eyes with this big top… I know the Queen has got ‘em too… but she don’t work ‘em like I do!”
Parton also gave a surprisingly lengthy and heartfelt shout out to Miley Cyrus, who was in the crowd. One thing she did not do was to pay tribute to Amy Winehouse, whose death had been announced earlier in the day.