Catch country legend Dolly Parton on one of the dozens of dates of her current Pure & Simple tour and you'll see that the 70-year-old legend is still one of the best entertainers around. The seven-time Grammy winner talked to InStyle about about her new album, her favorite covers, and her fashion philosophy.
In a 1980 piece written by the late Roger Ebert (around the time of 9-to-5), he mentions that speaking to you felt like being mesmerized by a benevolent power and that his review partner Gene Siskel thought you had a sort of healing aura. I felt that very same thing when I saw you in concert last month ... Is there a secret to connecting with so many people—both in concert and one on one?
I've always had a special connection with my fans. When I sit there and sing my songs and tell my stories during the show, I feel a connection with every person in the audience, whether there’s one person or 180,000. I always ask God to show Himself through me and to let me do and say something to uplift people, and to glorify Him.
What song are you most proud of writing on your new album, Pure & Simple?
All of my songs are my children, I don’t love one of them more than the rest of them, but I do like some of them more, just like children. I especially like "Never Not Love You" and "I’m Sixteen" on this album.
Your songs have been covered by so many artists — is there one cover that most knocked your socks off?
Yes. I will never forget hearing Whitney Houston’s version of "I Will Always Love You" for the first time. I was driving in my car by myself with the radio on and that song came on the radio and it kinda sounded familiar but I couldn’t put my finger on why, until she got to the part where she belted out "I will always love you’"and I thought my heart would beat right out of my chest. You see, I had no idea she had recorded the song, but I tell you what, I will always be grateful to Whitney Houston.
What song that you've covered do you feel the most proud of, listening now?
I’ve enjoyed them all, one that I found especially challenging was "Stairway to Heaven," and I’m still real happy with the way that turned out.
In addition to Pure & Simple, your Trio albums are being re-mastered and re-released this fall—and you play a few songs from the Trio albums on your current tour. How has it been revisiting those albums? Are you excited to have some of the previously unreleased material available for fans?
I have often said that some of my favorite work has come from those Trio albums. The mixture of me, Linda, and Emmylou was perfect, right from the start, and I am thrilled that this new album is going to be coming out this fall.
What was the first song you knew all the words to?
Believe it or not, it’s a song that I wrote called "Little Tiny Tassle Top" when I was about five or six years old.
When was the last time you were starstruck?
I don’t know that I’ve ever been starstruck, I’ve had a lot of star crushes, usually with every male co-star I’ve ever had.
InStyle is all about fashion, beauty, and a stylish home life–so with that in mind, what's the last thing you purchased?
My last big purchase was a cabin in the Smoky Mountains, and it’s adorable.
Describe the clothes in your closet in three words ...
Tacky, trashy, and tight!
If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Buckle up, you’re in for the ride of your life.
What's the one beauty product you always have in your bag?
One …? [Laughs] You mean ONE-HUNDRED! I LOVE makeup, and I don’t go anywhere without a whole bag of it.
What's the first thing you do when you get offstage after a show?
Who's the first person you call when you get good news?
Well that depends on what kind of news it is. If it’s personal news, that would always be Carl, my husband. If it’s professional news it would be with whatever folks I’m working with on that particular project, and of course I tell my best friend Judy everything all the time.
How do you make your home on the road feel like home?
My home on the road is my home. I travel in my bus and it’s tricked out, just like a house, for me.
When you're not on the road or recording, how do you relax?
If that ever happens, I’ll let you know!
In a 1982 People article, you said that you figured your "best years are going to be between 50 and 100." You're in that range now ... Has that turned out to be true?
Absolutely. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!
Dolly Parton's new album, Pure & Simple, is out today.