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Dolly Parton: Here I Am (2019)Dolly Parton: Here I Am (2019)

A few days after I watched this documentary about Dolly Parton (born 1946), she appeared on Stephen Colbert's Late Show, and sang an impromptu old song that brought Colbert to tears. Parton was talking about how her love of music grew out of her mother's old folk tunes, one of which was called “Bury Me Beneath the Willow,” a tune about a girl who was jilted by her boyfriend and decided to kill herself.  After she finished the second verse, she kidded Colbert, “Aw, you’re crying?” Then, instead of stopping, she sang some more. When she finally finished, Parton said, “So I better hush before you cry yourself to death and you can’t finish the show!” Colbert, still wiping his eyes and trying to laugh, said in return, “Like a lot of Americans, I’m under a lot of stress right now, Dolly! You got under my trip wire right there, that was pretty beautiful.” My wife and I loved this Netflix movie about the prolific (3,000 songs written), inimitable, savvy, and always quotable Dolly ("it takes a lot of money to look this cheap!"). There were some notable omissions, namely her vibrant Christian faith, and her relationship with Kenny Rogers (made famous by the duet "Islands in the Sea"). The film also skirted along the surface, but that's who Dolly is. Very early on she carefully crafted a professional persona, and not even her closest friends know the person underneath.  Case in point: it appears that no one has ever seen her without her trademark wig and makeup! But Dolly's one-liner response to this? “I know I look totally bizarre and artificial but I’m totally real inside.”

Dan Clendenin:

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