In the past year, there have been a couple of books released about Dolly Parton and her impact as a songwriter. I reviewed Unlikely Angel: The Songs of Dolly Parton by Lydia R. Hamessley and She Come By It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs by Sarah Smarsh, but now, it’s time to get it straight from the source. Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics is Dolly’s turn to set the record straight.
From the publisher: “As told by Dolly Parton in her own inimitable words, explore the songs that have defined her journey. Illustrated throughout with previously unpublished images from Dolly Parton’s personal and business archives.
Mining over 60 years of songwriting, Dolly Parton highlights 150 of her songs and brings readers behind the lyrics.
Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics reveals the stories and memories that have made Dolly a beloved icon across generations, genders, and social and international boundaries.”
I listened to the audiobook (Amazon) and also checked Songteller: My Life in Lyrics (Amazon) out of the library. It’s an oversized book with tons of never-before seen private pictures of Dolly, her rough drafts of songs, and more. Both versions are worthy of adding to your collection if you’re a fan of Dolly’s. The audiobook contains some narration and then Dolly tells the inspiration behind 150 of her songs, with snippets of the actual song played as introductions. The book contains an introduction to a chapter, the lyrics to the song, then Dolly’s thoughts. It’s clear from the audiobook that Dolly is not narrating her book. She’s answering questions, which became the basis of the book, which was then put into prose.
One thing I do have to say, while I really enjoyed all of Dolly’s stories, she seems to always say “This is one of my favorite songs that I wrote.” And she says it over and over again. I get it, she’s written thousands of songs, and the ones picked for the book are the cream of the crop, but that little idiosyncrasy got a little old after listening for a couple of hours. But I can’t begrudge Parton too much, because the songs culled for the book are all great. I haven’t listened to much of Dolly’s early career, but I’m well-versed on her hits in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, when I grew up listening to her music. So learning about her early songs was a huge plus for me.
One of the things Dolly talks about at length is her Imagination Library, which has put books into the hands of millions of underprivileged kids (almost 156,000,000 as of March 2021). She says that is one of the things she’s most proud of, along with the volume of her song output, as her lasting legacy. She started the foundation as a tribute to her father, who was the smartest man she knew, but he couldn’t read.
I highly recommend this book in both formats for any true fan of country music. The audiobook was a joy to listen to, and the print book is definitely coffee table worthy. At a time when I’ve been purging books instead of buying them, this is the rare exception that I’ve happily added to my musical artist collection.
This is the 38th Audiobook I’ve listened to as part of my 2021 Audiobook Challenge.
This is the 10th book I’ve read as part of the 2021 Library Love Reading Challenge.
For more reviews, visit www.bargain-sleuth.com
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