Dec. 31: Yet Another Best Of Year List Little Sparrow came in at No. 25 on E!Online's list of the top 25 CDs of 2001 released Friday. Their critics noted: "The country gal picks and grins her way to hog heaven on this purdy bluegrass romp. Dang, she even makes Collective Soul's top-40 hit "Shine" seem aglow with meaning." Merle Haggard and alt-country performer Ryan Adams (who was No. 1) were the only other country artists on the list here.
And Another! Nashville's own The Tennessean included it in the top 20 CDs of all genres released in 2001 (although they didn't rank them by number). They noted: "Already in the Country Music Hall of Fame, Dolly Parton is, remarkably, doing the best work of her life. Her 1999 album, The Grass Is Blue, was a classic, full of standards and self-penned songs, cutting-edge bluegrass picking and Parton's seasoned, emotional and endearing voice. Little Sparrow is similarly acoustic and vivid, with an even more imaginative and varied approach to song choice. We get original tunes that sound written in ancient runes ('Down From Dover'), standard swing ('I Get a Kick Out of You') and modern rock craftily re-invented as hot newgrass (Collective Soul's 'Shine'). Parton's voice is captured close and warm, and she's backed by the best in the business, including Dan Tyminski, Alison Krauss, Jim Mills (banjo), Chris Thile (mandolin) and Barry Bales (bass)." Their full list is here.
And Another! The CD ranked No. 3 on the USA Today list of the best country CDs of the year released Thursday, with critic Brian Mansfield writing: "On the second of her acoustic albums, Parton doesn't so much return to her roots as use those Appalachian influences as a filter through which to view her own work, as well as country, gospel and pop music both new (Collective Soul's 'Shine') and old (Cole Porter's 'I Get a Kick Out of You')." The full list is here.
And Another! The Cleveland Plain Dealer on Sunday put it in their top 10 as well, with critic Laura DeMarco saying about her No. 6 choice of the year: "This haunting bluegrass album reminds us what Parton's biggest assets really are: songwriting, storytelling and her lonesome, lilting voice." Their full list is here. Thanks, Patrick!
Steady Overseas The CD remained steady at No. 7 on this week's U.K. country albums chart released Sunday. In its 46th chart week overseas, the album peaked at No. 1 for eight weeks earlier this year.
Down Again In Canada With the holiday season ending, Kenny & Dolly's Once Upon A Christmas dropped 10 spots to No. 19 on the Canadian country albums chart released Friday for its eighth chart week there.
A Corrective Note The Toronto Sun on Friday published a letter to the editor from yours truly (identified by name as editor and publisher of Dollymania) correcting the story they had printed earlier in the week announcing Dolly's New Year's Eve fundraiser for the terrorist victims, which, of course, has been postponed to spring or summer 2002. The editors noted after the letter that this was "vital info for all of Dolly's fans."
Keep Calling! Let's all keep calling radio stations across the country and request "Shine" or "Two of The Lucky Ones" to give Dolly her 100th country chart single! Thanks to everyone who has submitted request lines, I've posted a list here. And you can still e-mail yours to me here!
Dec. 28: No. 3 In Bluegrass Knight Ridder News Service released its best bluegrass albums of the year on Thursday, and Dolly's Little Sparrow came in at No. 3. Critic Keith Lawrence wrote: "Dolly Parton brought a lot of attention to bluegrass with her first bluegrass album in 2000. And she followed up with a second mostly bluegrass album this year. And it's just as good. Parton can mine the dark side of life better than anyone since Hank Williams (the First). Little Sparrow offers two fascinating examples -- a remake of her 1970 'Down From Dover' and 'Mountain Angel,' tales of death and madness that follow believing the promises of wayward men." You may read the full list in the Salt Lake City Tribunehere. The CD also ranked at No. 49 on the Billboard year-end tally of 2001's best-selling country albums Thanks, Justin!.
'Songcatcher,' Too And while the CD didn't make it onto any of the Rolling Stone critics' top 10 lists, the Songcatcher soundtrack, featuring Dolly's "When Love Is New," came in at No. 9 on Richie Uterberger's countdown.
A 'World' Of Music I'm told that Dolly was featured Wednesday on the syndicated radio program World Café, performing tunes from Little Sparrow. The program airs on some NPR stations, but our public radio network here doesn't broadcast it.
Dec. 27: Dallas Loves 'Sparrow' Little Sparrow made another end-of-the-year album review list, this time from the Dallas Morning News. In Mario Tarradell's Christmas Day list of the 10 best country CDs of 2001, Sparrow came in at No. 6. He wrote: "Bluegrass album No. 2 for the country legend turned out better than the first one, 1999's The Grass Is Blue. She is so at home in the genre that she takes stylistic chances (a cover of Collective Soul's "Shine") that pay off. Her crystalline voice and all that homespun musicianship are a pure pleasure from start to finish." You may read the full story here (note: you must first register with their site to be able to view the story).
AP Says One Of Year's Best, Too The Associated Press' list of the best albums of the past year was released Wednesday, and Dolly came in at No. 8 on theirs, the only country album included. AP music critic Nekesa Mumbi Moody wrote about Little Sparrow: "Parton's music tends to be overshadowed by her larger-than-life personality. But on Little Sparrow, it's just her and the beautiful harmonies of mountain and bluegrass songs. And with Parton's voice, that's all you really need." Michael Franti and Spearhead's Stay Human came in at No. 1. The full list is available on CNN.com here.
Oops In Toronto The Toronto Sun on Wednesday published a story (here) announcing Dolly's New Year's Red White and Bluegrass fundraising concert for the victims of the 9-11 terror attacks, apparently unaware that Dolly announced only weeks after the concert was first scheduled that it would have to be postponed until spring or summer 2002 because many of the acts she wanted to perform at the show had scheduling conflicts. A new date has yet to be determined.
Dec. 24: Up In England Little Sparrow inches up one place to No. 7 for its 45th chart week in Great Britain, according to the country albums chart released there on Sunday. The CD peaked at No. 1 in England for eight weeks earlier this year.
Dec. 22: Yet Another Best Of Year Honor Little Sparrow is honored yet again with another inclusion in a list of the best albums of 2001, this time in Newsweek, as the only country artist to make the cut on their list. The magazine this week published its list of the "10 CDs You Need To Own" from the past year, and Dolly was the ninth one listed, although the article didn't say if they were shown in any particular order. Reviewer Lorraine Ali noted: "Little Sparrow is Dolly's second effort to return to her humble roots. Here the country diva delves deep into Appalachian mountain music and Kentucky-style bluegrass. She sings old ballads of loss and love, as well as some self-penned numbers about howling mountain ghosts. It's all done in her trademark crystalline highs and sweet sentimental lows. Though a megasuperstar, Parton still manages to capture and recall the flavor of America's backwoods." Read the full article here.
Dolly And The Two Grahams The Scotsman on Friday published a wonderful article by So, Graham Norton producer Graham Stuart detailing the time he and the show's host spent with Dolly in September filming the Graham Goes To Dollywood special which airs at 9 p.m. Wednesday on Great Britain's Channel 4. The article is humorous and positively raves about Dolly and how great she is. "Dolly is many things but most effectively she is the judge of her audience's needs. She understands the people who love her and has geared the park precisely for them. So, food is available everywhere in Smoky Mountain-size portions and there is always the tantalising possibility that she herself will turn up. Those two factors alone are enough to keep the millions of visitors clicking the Dollywood turnstiles," he writes. Read the full story here.
Down In Canada Kenny and Dolly's Once Upon A Christmas slides down two spots to No. 9 in the weekly Canadian country album sales chart released Friday. Originally issued in 1984, the CD is in its seventh chart week up north.
Bye, Bye, Bye The Knoxville News-Sentinel reported Friday that Anita Bryant, singer-turned-orange-industry-spokesperson-turned-homophobic-antigay-activist, is having her Music Mansion theater in Pigeon Forge foreclosed due to failure to pay her bills because almost no one was attending her concerts. Dollywood built the theater in 1995, where it saw sell-out crowds nearly every night for four years. The park sold the theater to Bryant in 1999, and audiences have dwindled ever since, according to the report. Silver Dollar City, Dolly's business partner in the Dixie Stampede theaters and Dollywood, initiated foreclosure proceedings against Bryant when she couldn't make payments on a $4.2 million promissory note for the property. The newspaper reported that liens of nearly $200,000 have been placed on the property by several other debtors., including the IRS and county utility company. Bryant was forced to close her music theaters in Branson, Mo., and Eureka Springs, Ark., in 1997 after they lost so much money that she had to file bankruptcy. The Pigeon Forge theater closed in the summer of 2000. Read the full story here.
Dec. 21: More Best Of Year Lists! Dolly's Little Sparrow has made one of the most important Best Of The Year lists, it was announced this week. Time magazine's Best And Worst Of 2001 section in the Dec. 24 issue chose the CD as the 9th best album released this year from all genres. The review noted: "Although lumped with the bluegrass revival, Parton's album sports little of the preciousness associated with most nouveau blue. On traditional tunes and unconventional ones (Collective Soul's Shine, Cole Porter's I Get a Kick Out of You), Parton tests bluegrass's elasticity—but gently. The whole album sounds fresh and playful." The Strokes' This Is It ranked No. 1, and while no other mainstream country acts made the top 10, two alternative-country performers did, Ryan Adams' Gold and Lucinda Williams' Essence came in at No. 4 and No. 6, respectively. Thanks, Gordon! The CD also ranked No. 85 on Barnes & Noble's music editor picks of the year.
Dec. 20: Dolly DVD Overseas A Dollymania reader out of the country tells me that he's learned that The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas is slated for a DVD release oustide the U.S. on Jan. 9. I have confirmed that the release date has been announced for the DVD on Universal/Dreamworks coded for Zone 4 (Australia, Central/South America, Carribean), but I have not confirmed whether it will be released on this date in Zone 2 (Europe, Japan, South Africa, Middle East). No word on whether it will be released on DVD stateside (Zone 1 -- U.S., Canada). Thanks, Sean!
'Year In Review' Is Up The third annual Dollymania Year In Review has been posted, offering you the only published overview of the past year in Dolly's life and career. Based on stories which have appeared on the news pages of Dollymania, the report is a recap of things you may remember and some things you may have forgotten took place in 2001. Read it here. (Also, 2000's review is located here and 1999's here!)
Send In Your Pics Anyone who attended Dolly's Christmas concerts who would like to submit their photographs for publication on Dollymania is invited to do so. The pages with reader-submitted photos will be linked from here. Already one fan has sent in a great selection of shots (thanks, Chris!). E-mail them as attachments to me here. (And be sure to read the official Dollymania review with photos here!)
Dec. 19: Concert Was A Blast! Dolly's Smoky Mountain Christmas concerts to benefit The Dollywood Foundation were spectacular over the weekend! To read a re-cap, and see a few photos, click here. Others who attended are welcome to send in their own shots from the show, which I'm sure will be much better than mine (LOL!). Those will be linked from a new photo page here.
In The Top 10 Dolly is back in the top 10 overseas and remains in the top 10 to our north. Little Sparrow shoots up 12 places to No. 8 for its 44th chart week in Great Britain, according to the country albums chart released there on Sunday. The CD peaked at No. 1 in England for eight weeks earlier this year. In Canada, Kenny & Dolly's 1984 album Once Upon A Christmas falls one spot to No. 7 for its sixth chart week on the country albums chart there, released Friday.
'Two' Still Getting Airplay According to Gavin's weekly country radio survey, "Two Of The Lucky Ones," Hal Ketchum's duet with Dolly from his CD Lucky Man, is still receiving moderate airplay across the country. It fell from one spot below their 50 charted singles last week to four spots below the top 50 with 210 "spins."
'Dolly & Friends' Still On Hold CDNow over the weekend removed the Dec. 31 release date it had posted for the three VHS tapes of Dolly Parton And Friends, meaning they won't be released on that date. The three-DVD collection (the contents of which still have not been announced) also currently has no release date and is listed by the video distribution company releasing them as "In The Works."
Best Of The Year Annapolis Capital Gazette writer John Horney on Monday issued his list of the best 20 or so country CDs released over the past year as a guide for Christmas shopping for country fans. Included was Little Sparrow, of which he noted: "This is what she (Dolly) grew up singing and it's some of the best she has ever done." His full article is available here.
See Those Shoes Dollymania reader Christopher passed along a site for shoe designer Grisha which contains some shots of shoes he's designed for Dolly. Access their site here. Thanks, Christopher!
Request It! James of Greenville, S.C., asks that I pass along some information for WSSL FM there to try and get "Two Of The Lucky Ones" in their nightly Top 12 at 7. Their toll-free number is 1-800-522-9775, and their e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks, James!
Dec. 14: 'Songcatcher' Gone Again The Songcatcher soundtrack, featuring Dolly's "When Love Is New," again fell off the Billboard country albums chart in the Dec. 22 edition released Thursday, down from No. 74 after 19 weeks on the chart.
Some Great Pics A Dollymania reader came across some wonderful photos of Dolly from MerleFest earlier this year. View some here and some here. Thanks, Greg!
Dec. 12: No New Dolly On 'Women' Soundtrack My copy of the Women Talking Dirty soundtrack arrived today from England, and I regret to be the first anywhere to inform you that the disc contains no new Dolly material. The version of "Jolene" which opens the CD is the original 1974 recording, and "It's All Wrong, But It's All Right" which closes the CD is the original 1977 recording. Although Dolly recorded several new songs for the film, including a new dance version of "Jolene," none of them made it onto the soundtrack. Also, while she and the film's producer and soundtrack supervisor Elton John wrote several songs together at the time the soundtrack was being compiled, none made it either. The only new cuts on the album are "Honeyz, Talk To The Hand," written by Peter Cunnah although the performers are not listed, and "Sofa Love," an instrumental selection written by Sir Elton. (Another Dolly site claimed to be the first with this news, but their news item -- dated before this one -- continued to claim these were new recordings until they changed the story a week after this was reported on Dollymania -- without changing the earlier date on their report.)
A Dolly Tid-Bit This from Instinct magazine. An article on the Showtime series Queer As Folk asked the show's actors what their characters might end up doing in a few decades. Gale Harold, who plays bad-boy Brian, answered: "'Emceeing a karoke night in Tulsa somewhere, a spokesman for the gay truckdriver's union. I don't know; it's hard to answer that question head-on. Maybe the world's greatest portrait painter of Dolly Parton's five
best concert moments -- in oil." Thanks, Greg!
Dec. 11: 'Norton' Special Air Date Announced A London Dollymania reader searched and searched and discovered the air date for Graham Norton's special Graham Goes To Dollywood, in which he and Dolly celebrate the holidays in Tennessee. The show will air on England's Channel 4 at 9 p.m. Dec. 26 (Boxing Day). Also, Dolly will be featured on The Heaven And Earth Show on BBC1 at 11:10 a.m. Dec. 30. No air dates are available yet to BBC America. Thanks, Suzi!
Wanna Work At Dollywood? Auditions will be held throughout January for dancers, singers, technicians and musicians to work during Dollywood's 2002 season, it was announced Monday. Entertainers will be needed for a new "classic country" show, the '50s rock-n-roll show and a pop show. Auditions will be held Jan. 5, 26 and 27 at the Tennessee park. Dolly said: "As the entertainment Capital of the Smokies, we feature some of the finest young talent in the country. I'm proud to be able to offer these young folks a place to do what they love while at the same time provide a great entertainment package for our millions of visitors to Dollywood each year." Auditions begin at 10 a.m. each day and are open call. Sign-in sheets will be posted one hour prior to auditions, with call-backs for singers and dancers at 5 p.m. Singers should prepare 16 bars of an up-tempo song and 16 bars of a ballad. Musicians should prepare a one-to-two-minute selection. All applicants are asked to bring a non-returnable 8-by-10 photo and resume. Auditions will also be held Jan. 12 in Birmingham, Ala., and Jan. 19 in Spartanburg, S.C. For more information, write Dollywood Entertainment Auditions, 1020 Dollywood Lane, Pigeon Forge, Tenn., 37863-4101, or visit Dollywood's website at here.
Dec. 10: 'Sparrow' Flies Up U.K. Chart Again Apparently fueled by holiday gift sales -- and possibly by the release of the Women Talking Dirty soundtrack, Dolly's Little Sparrow shoots up eight spots on the weekly British country albums chart released Sunday. In its 43rd chart week overseas, the CD comes in at No. 12. It peaked earlier this year at No. 1 for eight weeks and No. 30 pop (compared with just No. 12 country, No. 97 pop in its 36-week run on the U.S. charts).
'Lucky Ones' Nearing Chart Dolly's duet with Hal Ketchum, "Two Of The Lucky Ones" from his CD Lucky Man, could soon make the country singles charts. Gavin, one of the major music research companies, listed the song as just 11 "spins" from entering its Dec. 7 top 50 countdown. Although a different chart system than the Billboard one most widely used, it indicates that this song is getting moderate airplay. If it makes it onto the Billboard top 75 country singles chart, it would be Dolly's 100th credited appearance there and her first chart single since "Winter Wonderland/Sleigh Ride" appeared in the 1998-99 holiday season, 14 years after it was initially released. Thanks, Chris!
Dolly Inspires I came across a touching little story over the weekend from Sunday's Wassau Daily Herald. The article focuses on art produced by the disabled. One person profiled was Terry Willis, who is blind and has cerebral palsy, but who creates paintings by thinking of the lyrics of her favorite performer, Dolly. "She inspired my mind to picture these things," she explained. The full article is available here.
Dec. 8: Up In Canada In its fifth chart week, Kenny & Dolly's Christmas 1984 album Once Upon A Christmas moved up one notch to No. 6 on the weekly Canadian country albums chart, released Friday.
'Songcatcher' Comes Back The Songcatcher soundtrack, featuring Dolly's "When Love Is New," re-entered the Billboard country albums chart in the Dec.15 edition released Thursday. In its 19th chart week, the CD comes in at No. 74.
Dolly In Print Dolly is featured in a new book, Behind The Muse: Pop and Rock's Greatest Songwriters Talk About Their Work And Inspiration by Bill DeMain. The new publication by Tiny Ripple Books features more than 40 mostly rock songwriters such as Barry Gibb, Billy Joel, John Mellencamp and k.d. lang. Dolly's section, written after a 1996 interview, is tied with Joel's as the longest entry in the entire book. In it, she offers a very serious discussion of her songwriting, including how important it is in her life and the emotion she puts into each composition. Among those discussed are "I Will Always Love You," "Yellow Roses," "Down From Dover" and "Just Because I'm A Woman." It is available from the publisher's web site (www.tinyripple.com) or through Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.com. Thanks, Jeff!
Dollies On Parade An interesting article appeared in Friday's San Francisco Examiner. Bill Picture's column "The Mix" starts with: "I'm not exactly sure why Dolly Parton has become such a huge (pardon the pun) gay icon." Then he proceeds to describe "Dollymania Night" (love the title) at Trannyshack, a weekly drag show held at The Stud Bar in SF, where a cast of Parton impersonators strutted their stuff on stage lipsynching their favorite Dolly tunes. The full article is available here.
Dec. 6: Among The Best Of The Year The "Best of the Year" lists are starting to appear, and Dolly's made a couple already! On CDNow's Top 10 of 2001 lists, Little Sparrow ranks No. 4 on the country side, while the Songcatcher soundtrack, featuring the Dolly original "When Love Is New," is No. 8 on their soundtracks listing. At Amazon.com, while Dolly doesn't make the editors' picks top 100, Little Sparrow comes in at No. 46 on the customers' picks top 100. And while neither of the two releases this year made any of the lists from Billboard, one with a Dolly cut did: Ralph Stanley's Clinch Mountain Sweethearts, which features a Dolly duet on "Loving You Too Well." The CD ranked at No. 10 on the list compiled by Country/Contemporary Christian/Gospel Chart Manager Wade Jessen published on Wednesday.
Grammy Talk Dolly apparently won't be in direct competition with the massive hit O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack at next year's Grammy Awards. According to The Tennessean, Grammy rules forbid soundtrack albums from being entered in genre album categories, such as Best Country Album or Best Bluegrass Album. Could Dolly take home another trophy? Of course, she won Best Bluegrass Album (her sixth Grammy) earlier this year for 1999's The Grass Is Blue, and while this year's Little Sparrow is more of a folk-bluegrass mix than the straightforward bluegrass of Blue, some critics say it could stand a shot at the award next year. If it wins, Dolly would have taken home an award three years in a row, as she won Best Country Vocal Collaboration with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris last year for "After The Goldrush" from Trio II (itself recently certified as her 14th gold album, see Nov. 20 news update).
Dec. 3: Back On The U.K. Charts After a three-week absence, Dolly's Little Sparrow returns to the British country albums chart released Sunday. The CD checks in at No. 20 for its 42nd chart week. It peaked earlier this year at No. 1 for eight weeks.
'Women' Soundtrack Out, Track Listing The soundtrack for the Elton John-produced film Women Talking Dirty hits the streets today in England, where the film opens on Friday starring Helena Bonham Carter and featuring a fictional nightclub dedicated to Dolly and her music. Many retailers overseas shipped the CD to U.S. buyers on Friday and Saturday; so watch your mailboxes in the next week or two for it to arrive! Sir Elton himself personally supervised and executive produced the soundtrack for the film. The complete track listing is as follows: "Jolene," Dolly (new dance version); "Venus," Bananarama; "Home," Sheryl Crow; "Rocket Man," Kate Bush; "Talk To the Hand," Honeyz; "Hey Stranger," Lulu; "Getting Scared," Imogen Heap; "Mad About The Boy," Dinah Washington; "Sofa Love," Elton John; "Mambo No. 5," Perez Prado; "What A Wonderful World," Marianne Faithfull; "It's All Wrong, But It's All Right," Dolly. I know the dance mix of "Jolene" and Marianne Faithfull's cover of "It's A Wonderful World" are both new versions recorded for the film, and I assume so is Dolly's "It's All Wrong, But It's All Right." Of course, Dolly's original "Jolene" went No. 1 U.S. country and No. 7 U.K. pop in 1974, while her original of "It's All Wrong, But It's All Right" went No. 1 U.S. country in 1978.
Dec. 1: Christmas In The Top 10 Seventeen years after its initial release, Kenny & Dolly's double-platinum Christmas album Once Upon A Christmas has broken into the top 10 of the Canadian country albums chart, released Friday. The CD moves up four spots to No. 7 in its fourth chart week, according to the Nov. 29 chart based on actual units sold across Canada. Also on Friday, the album moved into the top 10 of CDNow's country albums chart, coming in at No. 8. Get your copy of this masterpiece here!
Attack Of The Clones Cartoonist Mike Luckovich offered his take on the cloning debate and our beloved diva in Friday's Atlanta Journal Constitution. See his cartoon here. (Of course, the famous clone Dolly the Sheep was, in fact, named after Dolly Parton.) Thanks, Stephen!
'Songcatcher' Gone After several weeks back on the chart following the video release of Songcatcher, the film's soundtrack fell off the Billboard top 75 country albums chart in the Dec. 8 edition released Thursday. The CD, which features the beautiful Dolly duet "When Love Is New" with Emmy Rossum, had been at No. 68 the previous week. It spent 18 weeks on the chart, peaking at No. 42.
Hurricane Dolly? The National Hurricane Center on Friday announced that the fourth tropical storm of the 2002 Atlantic hurricane season will be named . . . Dolly!
'Friends' Still Delayed While I have still been unable to confirm the Dec. 31 release date given for the VHS collection of Dolly Parton and Friends, the three-DVD collection is still apparently on hold. The video's distributor this week released its schedule for December through January issues, and the Dolly collection is still listed on the "In The Works" category with no firm release date.
Dolly Off Indie Charts Dolly's "Shine" from Little Sparrow drops off the top 40 independent country singles chart in its Nov. 30 edition released Friday by IndieWorldCountry. The song, which had been at No. 10 on the last chart update (the week before Thanksgiving), had peaked a few weeks back at No. 1, a spot it held for two consecutive weeks.