DiscoverDolly Parton's America
Dolly Parton's America
Claim Ownership

Dolly Parton's America

Author: WNYC Studios & OSM Audio

Subscribed: 39,437Played: 197,867
Share

Description

In this intensely divided moment, one of the few things everyone still seems to agree on is Dolly Parton—but why? That simple question leads to a deeply personal, historical, and musical rethinking of one of America’s great icons. Join us for a 9-episode journey into the Dollyverse.

Hosted by Jad Abumrad, creator of Radiolab and More Perfect.

Dolly Parton’s America is co-produced by WNYC Studios, home to great podcasts like Snap Judgement, Death, Sex & Money, and Nancy.
9 Episodes
Reverse
Dolly Parton's America Trailer

Dolly Parton's America Trailer

2019-10-0300:01:0428

In this intensely divided moment, one of the few things everyone still seems to agree on is Dolly Parton—but why? That simple question leads to a deeply personal, historical, and musical rethinking of one of America’s great icons.
Sad Ass Songs

Sad Ass Songs

2019-10-1500:59:15104

We begin with a simple question: How did the queen of the boob joke become a feminist icon? Helen Morales, author of “Pilgrimage to Dollywood,” gave us a stern directive – look at the lyrics! So we dive into Dolly’s discography, starting with the early period of what Dolly calls “sad ass songs” to find remarkably prescient words of female pain, slut-shaming, domestic violence, and women being locked away in asylums by cheating husbands. We explore how Dolly took the centuries-old tradition of the Appalachian “murder ballad”—an oral tradition of men singing songs about brutally killing women—and flipped the script, singing from the woman’s point of view. And as her career progresses, the songs expand beyond the pain to tell tales of leaving abuse behind.How can such pro-woman lyrics come from someone who despises the word feminism? Dolly explains.  
I Will Always Leave You

I Will Always Leave You

2019-10-2200:55:30150

Porter Wagoner led the most successful country music television show of its time, and in 1967 he needed a new “girl singer.” He turned to a 21 year old songwriter named Dolly Parton, who’d just recorded her first hit “Dumb Blonde.” So began a nearly decade-long partnership that, behind the scenes, was as contentious as it was commercially successful. This episode tells the story of the “Porter years,” the period during which Dolly arguably discovers her power - both as a performer and songwriter - and then makes the difficult (and radical for its time) decision to strike out on her own. Through interviews with Dolly, country music star Marty Stuart, Wagonmaster Buck Trent, and Porter’s daughter Deborah Wagoner, we explore how Dolly handled what’s sometimes called the great “hillbilly divorce” with such characteristic grace. 
Tennessee Mountain Trance

Tennessee Mountain Trance

2019-10-2900:41:4445

We journey into the Dollyverse dimension: "Tennessee Mountain Home."Like all law abiding Tennesseans, Jad grew up with the song on a loop.  He hadn’t planned to talk with Dolly about it, but much to his surprise, he is drawn into a Tennessee Mountain Trance.  The trance opens a portal to many questions about country music, authenticity, nostalgia and belonging.  And to a place called Dollywood. We visit the replica of Dolly’s childhood cabin and find thousands of other pilgrims similarly entranced.  Along the way, we meet Wandee Pryor, who lived in a Dolly dreamworld as a girl.  And also, halfway around the world, Esther Konkara, the self-proclaimed “Kenyan Dolly Parton,” who sings "Tennessee Mountain Home" as an ode to the hills of Nairobi - hills she has not yet left.  The Tennessee Mountain home begins to seem like part of a Disney fairytale.But then, Jad and Shima get a call from Dolly’s nephew and head of security Bryan Seaver, who makes an irresistible offer. 
Neon Moss

Neon Moss

2019-11-0500:42:3948

In this episode, we go back up the mountain to visit Dolly’s actual Tennessee mountain home.  But, can you ever go home again?  Dolly tells us stories about her first trips out of the holler, and shares with us where she lives now. Back on the mountaintop, standing under the rain by the Little Pigeon River, the trip triggers memories of Jad’s first visit to his father's childhood home, and opens the gateway to dizzying stories of music and migration.
Dollitics

Dollitics

2019-11-1200:45:5048

Dolly Parton and politics have always had an interesting relationship. On the one hand, she wrote 9 to 5, the anthem for working women and the theme song for a movie inspired by a new labor union. On the other hand, she refuses to answer questions about President Trump, or any question on politics period. Her nephew calls this “Dollitics”: Dolly doesn’t take a position because she knows half her fans are on the right, half are on the left. In this moment in history, how should we think of this kind of fiercely apolitical stance?  Is it desirable, or even possible?
The Only One For Me, Jolene

The Only One For Me, Jolene

2019-11-1900:38:1735

One of Dolly’s most iconic and successful songs is “Jolene,” a song that, at first listen, is about a romantic rival trying to steal her man: a prime example of the classic “cheating song.”  But some see it as flipping a popular country music trope on its head. This idea takes shape when Nadine Hubbs, a professor at the University of Michigan, writes a fourth verse to “Jolene," which makes us reimagine Dolly's songs in entirely new ways. 
Music performed by: Justin Hiltner (@hiltnerj, http://justinhiltner.com) Esther Konkara (@esther_konkara) Steph Jenkins (@slhjenkins, http://www.stephaniejenkins.info) Stephanie Coleman (@stephiecoleman) Courtney Hartman (@courthartman, https://www.courtneyhartman.com) Shelley Washington (@shelleyplaysaxy, http://shelleywashington.com) Bora Yoon (@borabot, http://borayoon.com) Caroline Shaw (@caroshawmusic, https://carolineshaw.com)Recordings from National Sawdust were part of the NationalSawdust+ series: Elena Park is the curator of NationalSawdust+ Special thanks to recording engineer Garth MacAleavey, Jeff Tang, Charles Hagaman, and everyone at National Sawdust.  Thanks also to Alex Overington and Jeremy Bloom for mix engineering.
Dolly Parton's America

Dolly Parton's America

2019-12-0300:42:3724

At the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, we drop in on a history class called “Dolly Parton’s America.” (We borrowed the name for our series!) Taught by Dr. Lynn Sacco, the class is filled with college students who grew up in rural Appalachia, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college.  Dr Sacco gives the class an assignment: Write an essay that answers the question “What is Dolly Parton’s America?” Lurking just behind that question are thornier ones about Southern shame and identity and hillbillies and football and...well, Dolly.  Is Dolly helping or hurting us? The class splits down the middle.   Editor’s Note:  We made two corrections to this podcast, originally released on December 3.  In referring to the location of the Battle of Blair Mountain, we changed “Southwestern Virginia” to “West Virginia.” And on the origin of the term redneck, we inserted narration that makes clear that the etymology of the term goes back farther than the Battle of Blair Mountain.  
Comments (85)

Kayla Reeser

The Barbara Walter's interview in this episode is unintelligible to the ear....and they never address it. anyone else have this issue?

Dec 12th
Reply

RiOtGrrrl

the part talking about the history of the old mountain songs...very interesting. didn't know some of these went back as far as 1600s

Dec 10th
Reply

Michelle T

I love this podcast and this might be my favorite episode. I am a proud native Tennessean who was moved north at 14. My mom was always ashamed of her southern roots and although she never said as much out loud, I was definitely "encouraged" towards the Queen's English. Add to that some vicious bullying for being different and I set about losing my accent quick as I could. I'm now sorry that I caved to that pressure, especially with my southern colloquialisms that I picked up from my grandparents. It feels like a rejection of who I am, who they were, and most importantly how hard they worked so that my mom & I could make snooty decisions. Just some food for thought for the students and others with a similar struggle. And one point of constructive criticism for those who are worried about being taken seriously: for the love of Saint Dolly, concentrate on losing the habit to use "like" as every other word. That makes you sound far less articulate than the thickest drawl.

Dec 7th
Reply

daisy

I just can't get over this whole series. Dolly Parton is so incredible

Dec 5th
Reply (1)

Sylvia H Ramos

I love Dolly now more than ever. I do think the episode on Dec 2 reminds me of the stereotypes of inner city. I am proud to be from the City as we called it. New York City. She is a complex person, genuine and loving. can't wait for the final episodes.

Dec 4th
Reply (3)

B. C.

"Two terms that started out as referring to people fighting for rights getting turned into terms used to shame those same people."

Dec 4th
Reply

B. C.

Holy shit, that's where the term redneck comes from. I regret calling people rednecks. I didn't know it was a term that came from coal workers trying to unionize.

Dec 4th
Reply (1)

jackieblue361

Kenyan Dolly 💕💕

Nov 27th
Reply (1)

jackieblue361

I love this podcast!

Nov 27th
Reply (1)

Elizabeth Hill

What an excellent podcast! Excellent combination of story telling and American history. I have had multiple goosebumps moments whilst listening. Thank you!

Nov 27th
Reply

JML

I am glad so many are in agreement with me about that cringe worthy interpretation of Jolene. Nadine is a case in point example of the trouble with the academic approach.

Nov 26th
Reply (1)

Rebecca A

Nadine's interpretation didn't resonate with me, but the interpretation of the song at the end did. That just made me love the song.

Nov 20th
Reply (1)

Rhiannon Vulpēs Stark

the Jolene remix that I'm after is more like the audio at 34:01...not the dance version!

Nov 20th
Reply

Nicole Miller

I am really enjoying this series! Thank you for adding depth to an artist I've known since my childhood.

Nov 20th
Reply (1)

Kristen Dockery Nguyen

This was way too much of a reach!

Nov 19th
Reply (1)

Tuesday Hall

I don't agree with Nadine's interpretation of "Jolene". I always assumed the speaker in Jolene was a quiet and understated woman with low self esteem who doesn't believe she is enough for her husband despite her unwavering love for him. I think her comments on Jolene's appearance comes from a place of jealousy, not desire or attraction. That's just my opinion.

Nov 19th
Reply (4)

Steve Harrison

Dolly had an A grade rack back in the day, nobody came close.

Nov 17th
Reply

Teresa Kintner Gunderson

I never thought I could love Dolly more, but here I am. Fantastic series, definitely my favorite. I'm in awe, and have about a million people who need to hear this whole series.

Nov 15th
Reply (1)

David Yardley

is the first podcast on 2:15? tried to download it again bit it still only goes that long

Nov 14th
Reply

Scott Rossi

I feel like the word for this episode is "saudade". Dolly seems to be able to perfectly channel that feeling in a lot of her songs and interviews, and I think that's why she's so easy to identify with.

Nov 13th
Reply (1)
loading
Download from Google Play
Download from App Store