Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dr. Funk Picks His Favorite 1970s songs - Part 2

I have a daughter. She's 10 years old, and if you know any kids around her age, you're undoubtedly familiar with Hannah Montana. On a couple episodes of the show, Dolly Parton showed up as Hannah's godmother, "Aunt Dolly."

So, while going through my CD collection and seeing the Dolly Parton CDs, I looked over to my daughter and asked her: "Hey, what do you know about Dolly Parton?" expecting her to say she was on the show.

Without a second's hesitation, Melissa said, "She's got big boobs."

And there you have it...from the mouth of a 10-year old.

It's a shame, because Dolly Parton was (and still is) an amazing singer. A quick listen to her 1970s catalog shows just how versatile she could be. Her 1974 original of "I Will Always Love You" is superior to Whitney Houston's smash (and even Parton's own 1982 remake of the song) because of the emotion she conveyed when she recorded it. Some of her self-penned stuff like "The Bargain Store," "Jolene" and "Coat of Many Colors" brought something that you didn't always expect in the realm of Country music. It was, in a way, a lot like the introspection that was celebrated among many of the singer-songwriters that were scoring big on the Pop charts at the same time. Eventually, Dolly was hitting the Pop Top 40 as well.

The song that took her over the top was the next song in my "Greatest Hits of the 1970s" thread: "Here You Come Again." It was so much different from her earlier records, from its bright piano intro to its sleek production, steel guitar notwithstanding. It was her first major hit (solo, that is) that she hadn't written herself -- Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil put it to paper and B.J. Thomas recorded it earlier -- but she made the song her own when she sung it.

It was also one of the first songs I remember hearing on the radio. Even as a kid who hadn't yet developed a fine tase for good music, the guitar solo is clear to this day: I can picture myself sitting in the back seat of my parents' old Mazda and hearing it come wafting from the speakers.

Speaking of parents, shortly after Dolly was sitting at #1 dueting with Kenny Rogers on "Islands in the Stream," I remember Mom mentioning how sad it was that Dolly Parton is better remembered for her figure than for her angelic voice. She mentioned how pretty her earlier tunes had been and mentioned one specifically: "Coat of Many Colors." So, one day I found some old Dolly LPs sitting around and listened on our old stereo system...and ended up playing "Here You Come Again" several times and falling in love with it again.

So, when I had my CDs out with my daughter and she told me what she knew about Dolly Parton, we listened. And she really liked some of what she heard. If you'd like to hear "Here You Come Again" for yourself, here's a like to the song on iTunes: Dolly Parton - The Essential Dolly Parton, Vol. 2 - Here You Come Again

Or for a great primer on Dolly Parton's career, here's a collection that features 37 hits over 2 discs and lets you hear what I found so special:

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