Dolly Parton, Cher Make Late 70s Most Sensational Season Of Life

Cher and Dolly Parton/Credit: YouTube
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Tresa Patterson

In every generation, adages like “40 is the new 20” and comparisons creep into conversations and culture. When the names of Dolly Parton and Cher come up in Christmas party chatter, however, no one mentions numbers. For the most part, all anyone sees is the dazzle and dynamite energy of these superstars in their late 70s, not to mention surges to the top of the music charts like never before in their music careers, as CNN per MSN details.

During the same week, Dolly Parton celebrated her highest-ever album debut with Rockstar, while Cher savored another Billboard #1 atop the Dance/Electronic Digital Sales chart with DJ Play A Christmas Song.

Rockstar rocketed to #3 in the All-Genre albums category, simultaneously sweeping to #1 on Billboard’s Country Albums chart. Not surprisingly, both legendary ladies wrangled huge audiences.

Dolly Parton performed a sampling of her best-loved oldies before launching into We Are The Champions/We Will Rock You for the halftime of the Dallas Cowboys-Washington Commanders Thanksgiving Day bout.

For her part, Cher rang in the Christmas season at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and again for Christmas in Rockefeller Center. At 77, Dolly and Cher have nothing to prove and demonstrate beautifully that advancing years have no correlation with artistic gifts.

Dolly and Cher have their share of critiques

No matter the season, or its good cheer, a few naysayers always find a fly in the eggnog. In Dolly Parton’s case, famous friends and fans, such as Christie Brinkley and Chelsea Handler, rallied in support within nanoseconds. With a few choice words of her own, Handler praised that “the fact that she is on that stage at all is a gift to everyone who sees her.”

Besides deeming Parton’s cheerleading ensemble “inspiring and fun,” Brinkley lauded Dolly’s “boundless good energy,” not forgetting her “golden philanthropic heart full of love.” The supermodel directed that the detractors calling for Parton to “dress her age” should “sit down.”

Without a doubt, Dolly Parton recalls the days when no one in the industry knew what to make of her unique voice, as Country Music Alley related in March of 2021. After signing with Monument Records with her uncle, Bill Owens, Parton wrote and sang Happy, Happy Birthday Baby, which charted at #108.

“It sounded like people thought it was childish, so they thought I might have a better chance in rock ‘n roll,” the World On Fire artist recollects of label owner Fred Foster’s guidance.

On the other hand, Cher only needs to look in the mirror to meet her most dissatisfied critic, as noted by The Hollywood Reporter in October. Even struggling to describe her voice, the Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves singer finally declares, “It doesn’t sound like a man, it doesn’t sound like a woman. I’m somewhere more in between.”  What Cher does appreciate about her voice, however, is its heritage. “I have my Mama’s voice,” she proudly asserts.

Love got the music flowing

In every artistic venture, something has to spark the spirit and soul. As it happens, both Cher and Dolly Parton were touched by love to create their new music. “I just never wanted to,” the Armenian-American singer and actress insists regarding recording a Christmas album. What moved the strong-willed Cher from a definite “no” to a decidedly passionate “yes” for her first-ever Yuletide project, Christmas, was the personal involvement of the new man in her life, 37-year-old Universal music executive Alexander Edwards.

Willing or not, the producer with a presence broke all the rules for Cher, from not dating a younger man to not texting to solidify a relationship. With the right person, everything works. Indeed, Cher has always been bold enough to strike out on her own. Now, she’s wise enough not to let any chance of love slip away.

To her core, Dolly Parton lives out what she believes, and from the day she exchanged vows with Carl Dean on Memorial Day weekend of 1966, she honors those vows. Just as fiercely, the artist who comes alive on stage honors her husband’s genuine disdain for being in the limelight, allowing him to stay where the home fires glow. Dolly Parton and Carl Dean will likely cuddle close this season, head-banging to some of his favorite tracks in between the Christmas carols. The entire endeavor of creating Rockstar was Dolly’s “love note”—literally, to her lifelong love and ardent rock fan.

A jab from an unexpected corner

By and large, faithful multitudes of music fans and musicians across genres commend both the spirit and the performance of Dolly Parton in her maiden rock collection. One noted publication, however, founded on its mission of championing seniors and empowering them to seize life to its fullest, came down fairly hard on the profoundly prolific songwriter.

In the online review of Rockstar, AARP music critic Edna Gundersen gives a few nods for the Miley Cyrus duet with her godmother on the vocal showcase in the reimagined Wrecking Ball. The reviewer also praises Parton’s Purple Rain and collaborations with Chris Stapleton, Simon Le Bon, and John Fogerty.

Somewhat early on, though, Gundersen concludes that Dolly Parton “lacks the requisite rebellion and scrappiness that give rock an authentic kick.” “She just can’t suppress that quivery Tennessee twang,” the critic also bemoans.

The legions of faithful Dolly Parton fans aware of her history understand how everything from her wardrobe and makeup to her timeless songwriting and enduring philanthropy are very much part of her rebellion– against strict parenting, against the suppression of women, against social and natural disasters and circumstances that leave people in need, against the prejudice of all kinds. Nothing stops the woman who wrote Just Because I’m A Woman, and it’s not the same without her Tennessee twang!

Fortunately, neither Dolly Parton nor Cher consumes their golden years searching for retirement benefits. Instead, both entertainment icons are grateful for love and life lessons, and they still look great in a Bob Mackie gown, too!

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