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Country music fans, and fans of goodness, in general, find endless reasons to love Dolly Parton. Millions of people who’ve never heard any of the Dolly Parton classics across the decades are better because of the Country queen’s incredible, giving heart. She is not one to toot her own horn, but she does make it a daily mission to make a difference to someone else.
In 2020, the difference Dolly Parton made saved lives. At the start of the virus surge in the spring, the singer-songwriter rightly spoke that “We got more money than we got time right now.” She gave $1 million to the research efforts at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The “Build a Bridge to Save Lives” initiative aimed to create treatments until vaccines were readily available. Dolly didn’t stop there. Her name was revealed this fall among major contributors to the Moderna vaccine.
A lovely, lyrical surprise
While Dolly Parton’s dollars did worlds of good to try to end the pandemic, the dynamic Dolly continued to delight millions of children across the world with monthly deliveries of books from her Imagination Library, celebrating 25 years of building literacy and learning. “The Book Lady” also wrote Christmas classics to add to the Yuletide songbook with her album, A Holly Dolly Christmas.
It’s just like Dolly Parton to start 2021 off with an enchanting surprise like only the music legend can do. Taste of Country confirms that the beloved singer-songwriter has a very special treat tucked away at her Dollywood resort. It’s one never heard by anyone but Dolly.
This secret is too good for Dolly Parton to share—for a few decades
Whether it’s in her interviews, her books, her famous “Dollyisms” or her music, Dolly Parton gets very candid about life. Through six decades in the spotlight, Dolly has divulged honestly about her essentials—“my makeup, my wigs, and my heels.” The “9 to 5” songstress insists that she can be show- ready in 20 minutes under a pinch. She’s in no hurry to share her hidden song at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort.
In her lovely chronicle of 150 of her songs, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics, the details of a “song vault” come to light. Dolly Parton’s team conceived the marvelous idea of their artist writing a song that would be locked away until 30 years after the venue’s opening in 2015. That means no one will hear a note of the unheard treasure until 2045. The timing gives loyal fans plenty of time for planning a vacation to Dolly Parton land in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The rooms are likely first-come, first-served, so get the jump now!
Dolly plans to be there for the big surprise
Of course, the one-of-a-kind gem of a never-before-heard Dolly Parton song needs a perfect place to rest for 30 years. The same Uncle Bill who took Dolly to her first radio shows carved a box out of chestnut. The keepsake container and the contents are in a glass display case at the resort.
The ingenious marketing idea gives Dolly Parton other concerns. “You’ll be long dead,” Parton’s well-meaning instigators said. Dolly isn’t sure about that at all. “I said, well, maybe not. I’ll be 99. I’ve seen people live to be older than that,” the songwriting legend retorted. She’s written a few songs about wise old souls, too.
The big reveal
Beyond her own physical state, Dolly Parton wonders if her secret song will even play 24 years from now. The precious tune is preserved on a CD and packed away with a CD player. Still, she admits “there’s no telling what music is going to be by then.” “Hopefully, it will play and the whole thing’s not rotted,” Parton wishfully adds.
To this day, Dolly Parton prefers old-fashioned ways of documenting her beautiful gift for songs. Pen and paper work just fine for the music dynamo who rises before dawn. She also famously prefers cassette tapes and her Dictaphone, which are usually close at hand.
Fans desire nothing more than for Dolly Parton to stay alive and well forever, like her eternal songs. One promise she hopes to fulfill is to be “live and in-person” at the opening of that chestnut box. “If I do, [live to be 100] I’m going to be at that opening.” Parton confessed that even after all this time, “it’s burning me up inside that I have to leave it [the song] there.” That’s plenty of incentive for Dolly to stay around long enough to get her own song back.
Meaningful dreams come true for Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton lives to see so many of her dreams become reality. Her life matters in so many meaningful ways to countless lives who will never know her for her status or celebrity– only for her generosity. Dollywood is just one of those dreams.
The theme park opened in 1986. She wanted to give visitors not only a fun day at a theme park, but a glimpse into the true life of Dolly Parton. Butterflies are everywhere, in recognition of her trademark. Children take rides on a variety of colorful frogs and bugs. The attraction underwent a $300 million expansion in the 2010s, even before the DreamMore addition in 2015.
“Dollywood is one of the greatest dreams I’ve ever had come true,” Dolly Parton confirms. “Dollywood is special to me.”
Love is no secret
The person most special to Dolly Parton, her husband, Carl Dean, is lovingly described in the pages and pictures of Songteller: My Life in Lyrics. Although she is tenderly protective of his reserved nature and disdain for any spotlights, she points out that Carl was the “cover model” for her 1969 album, My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy. She’s hardly hiding the man of her life away. She knows that he cherishes privacy. The way the couple cherishes each other after 56 years together is clear. In a photo to accompany “The Last One to Touch Me,” Dolly relates how the song means more as she reflects on their journey together and closes by affirming that her husband “is my home and my heart.”
Dolly Parton seems to do everything from the heart and that kind of purpose makes everything matter more.