Friday, June 17, 2011

299. Coat of Many Colors. Must... not...make...obvious...Dolly...Parton....Jokes.

Album: Coat of Many Colors.
Artist: Dolly Parton
Year: 1970
Genre: Country


  1. Coat of Many Colors
  2. Traveling Man
  3. My Blue Tears
  4. If I Lose My Mind
  5. The Mystery of the Mystery
  6. She Never Met a Man (She Didn't Like)
  7. Early Morning Breeze
  8. The Way I See You
  9. Here I Am
  10. A Better Place to Live

There’s no getting around this, Coat of Many Colors is a country album. Not a country/folk, or country/blues album, it’s country and it's western. It’s pedal steel guitars and mistreated women and God references and Southern accents and the sort of sentence structure that can only come from towns that think an alternative-energy vehicle is just a fancy name for a horse. There are musicians on this album with names like Jerry Shook, Buck Trent, Johnny Gimble, Buddy Spicher and even Hargus Pig Robbins. It’s a real country album and lets be honest that’s part of it’s charm.

Dolly Parton started releasing country albums in 1967 and even though she’s tried to expand her repertoire a bit lately (in 2002 she recorded a version of Stairway to Heaven) she’s still cranking out country tunes today. She’s the queen of country who writes her own songs and has stayed true to her own image for half a century. She’s a down-home girl who just happens to be a multi-millionaire who owns her own theme park.

That’s the problem with country music. The lyrics are firmly entrenched in hardship and poverty and the simple life but it’s a massive industry and anyone successful quickly moves from a farm into a mansion. The title track on Coat of Many Colors talks about Dolly’s impoverished roots and how her mother made her a coat made out of rags because it was all she could afford. While you’re listening to it why not do a google image search for Dolly Parton? You can enjoy her singing about her simple roots while scrolling through pictures of her wearing garish dresses, dripping with jewelry and trying to keep a heavily made up face upright under the weight of massive hair.

Parton’s latest single was a song called Better Get to Livin in which she sings about having a positive attitude. It includes lines like:

 “Your life's a wreck your house is a mess,
And your wardrobe is way outdated,
All your plans just keep on falling through,
Overweight and underpaid,
Am no guru but I tell you this I know is true
You better get to livin”

That sort of advice might go down a lot better if it was delivered by someone who lived on the land somewhere. Dolly has spent more on plastic surgery than many of her fans can spend on clothing in their lifetime, she sold her own signature line of wigs, co-owns the production company that made Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sabrina the Teenage Witch and has her own theme park. If Dolly was going to record a true country album about her troubles she’d include titles like “Business meetings are a drag.” “My surgeon lifted my face but you’ve lifted my spirits” and “This wig was made for wearing”. Having said that Dolly has never had anything handed to her. The reason she has so much money in the bank is because she has a great voice and started to write great country songs in 1967.

If you like country music then this album is one of the finest of the genre. If you don’t then this album is the best country album you won’t want to ever hear again.

Highlight: The title track
Lowlight: Here I am

Influenced by: Poverty and the West
Influenced: Every woman who ever recorded country music since.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: “It also contains other classics like "My Blue Tears" and "Travelin Man". The album shows her diversity as an artist. A must have!”

-Not to be too picky but can you really call an artist that records nothing but country albums diverse?

So Dolly Parton. Are you disappointed I didn't say she kept abreast of recent trends? Annoyed I never mentioned how she was a young singer with big things ahead of her? Or are you proud of me for not saying her attitude was country or bust? Feel free to insert your own Dolly Parton jokes below. You can even comment on the music if you like.

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