Dolly Parton, Songteller


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About the Author

Robert K. Oermann is a Nashville-based music journalist who is considered the "unofficial historian of Nashville's musical heritage." He has written several books on country music, including Finding Her Voice: The Saga of Women in Country Music, which won the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for music book excellence. He lives with his wife in Nashville, Tennessee.

Dolly Parton is the most honored and revered female country singer-songwriter of all time. Achieving 25 RIAA-certified gold, platinum, and multi-platinum awards, she has had 26 songs reach #1 on the Billboard country charts, a record for a female artist. Parton recently became the first country artist honored as Grammy MusiCares Person of the Year given out by NARAS. She has 41 career Top 10 country albums, a record for any artist, and 110 career-charted singles over the past 40 years. In 2014, the RIAA recognized her impact on recorded music with a plaque commemorating more than 100 million units sold worldwide. Her 2016 #1 album, "Pure & Simple," which topped the Billboard Top Country Albums and Americana/Folk Albums charts and debuted at No. 1 in the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Australia, added to that massive tally. She has garnered ten Grammy Awards and 49 nominations, including the Lifetime Achievement Award and a 2020 win with for KING & COUNTRY for their collaboration on "God Only Knows"; 10 Country Music Association Awards, including Entertainer of the Year; five Academy of Country Music Awards, also including a nod for Entertainer of the Year; four People's Choice Awards; and three American Music Awards. In 1999, Parton was inducted as a member of the coveted Country Music Hall of Fame. Parton has donated over 130 million books to children around the world with her Imagination Library. Her children's book, Coat of Many Colors, was dedicated to the Library of Congress to honor the Imagination Library's 100 millionth book donation. From her "Coat of Many Colors" while working "9-to-5," no dream is too big and no mountain too high for the country girl who turned the world into her stage.


"...a tome that will keep you entranced for weeks. It is essentially the story of her life, told through the lyrics of her songs. The design is wonderful, replete with photographs, ample white space, descriptive text and song lyrics surrounded by the ephemera related to them...As I read, I could hear her voice as if it were reading the book to me. What a treat!"

- Denton Record-Chronicle (TX)

" A hefty retrospective on the six-decade career of a country music superstar who tells stories in song. Parton has been mining her East Tennessee roots for crowd-pleasing songs ever since she wrote her first tune, about a corncob doll, at around the age of 6. With Nashville-based music journalist Oermann, she serves up her highest-grade ore in a handsomely produced collection of the lyrics to more than 175 of her songs, some in print for the first time. All songs have brief introductions on topics such as when and how Parton wrote them, and longer pieces show her evolution from 'a hard-core country artist' with a 'girlish soprano tremolo' to a multifaceted star also at ease with pop, gospel, and bluegrass. Moving chronologically through the artist's life, the book reveals her abiding passions with thematic juxtapositions of songs, which range from '9 to 5' to the elegiac ballads 'Jolene' (her song 'most performed by others') and 'I Will Always Love You' ('For what she did with that, I will always love you, Whitney Houston'). Hundreds of color and black-and-white photos of Parton and others display her over-the-top tastes in fashion and wigs faithful to her motto: 'Leave no rhinestone unturned.' Parton conceals more than she reveals about her 50-plus-year marriage to the reclusive Carl Dean and whether she's had affairs ('Well, I don't admit or deny anything'). She is frank, however, about professional setbacks. For example, when she was starting out in the industry, every major record company on Nashville's Music Row turned her down as a vocalist. In the final pages, Parton sounds a poignant note in the lyrics to a song written with Kent Wells and released during the pandemic. The song, 'When Life Is Good Again, ' is the hymnlike lament of a repentant sinner who vows to change 'when life is good again.' A splashy, entertaining guide to the lyrics of one of the most popular musicians of our time. " --Kirkus Starred Reviews

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