My Brief Chat with Dolly Parton: Her Southern Charm and Her Southern Music

A few days ago I had the honor of chatting with Dolly Parton a little over the phone. Now, the what/when/why/how of that phone conversation will not be disclosed until a certain article is published on the week of May 13th. Look for it then, it will be a very cool article -- especially if you're a fan of Dolly.

What I will say now about it is that she has the most sincere Southern charm I've ever witnessed in a human being. She makes you feel like she's known you your whole life -- that you've been a neighbor down the street from her for 40 years or something. That being said, she's extremely guarded about her private life -- which is a good thing for celebrities to be. It gives them a chance to remain sane in a sea of insane press. She's been married to one man -- a fella named Carl who ran an asphalt paving business in Tennessee when they met and married 40+ years ago. By all accounts from what she shares in public, the two are both very much in love. Some people doubt he exists because he has shunned any and all publicity. There are only a few existing photographs of him. But Dolly and Carl jump in their RV every weekend (when she's not touring, etc), go on road trips and eat fast food like any old married couple.

So, my point is, all of this down-to-earth charm zings right through every word she says to you. And, even more importantly for the purpose of this article, her personality imprints itself wholly onto her music. Her songs are made in her image just as man is made in the image of God. She bends and sculpts the mechanics of music theory and sound production until the songs are identical twins of her personality. This dawns on people often, once they meet her in person or talk to her.

What blows me away is how human beings can take sound waves and manipulate them into something that is so undeniably human. The simple fact that the laws of sound permit this sort of flexible shaping is evidence (to me) that Jesus created sound to be a container and conveyor of human personality, yes, but ultimately He created it to convey His personality. Dolly's shaping of music to perfectly capture her personality is just a small shadow compared to how music speaks of Jesus. If the universe is a metaphor and a portrait of Jesus and the suffering/darkness of the Cross -- as I posit in the foundational premise for this blog (see the next post down) -- and if God created us in His image, then we should expect to see things like this, where a person can shape sound to almost be a metaphor and image of their personality. What Dolly does is a small piece of evidence that the universe was indeed created as a metaphor to convey spiritual truth.

And it's not just Dolly. It's amazing how a community, like the "mountain folk" (as she calls them) of the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, could create a style of music (bluegrass) that captured their personality as a people.

All of this is making me want to take a vacation to the Smokies!