Dolly Parton: "She's an eagle when she flies"

Broadsheet's big 60th birthday crush on the singer.


Rebecca Traister
January 21, 2006 2:50AM (UTC)

So it turns out that so many Broadsheet writers are just wild about Dolly Parton that there was practically a scuffle this morning over who was going to write and wish her a slightly belated happy 60th birthday. I was the grabbiest.

Then I was so wowed by Shakespeare's Sister's birthday post that I decided the best I could do was just pass on some thank-yous to Dolly Rebecca Parton, who was born on Jan. 19, 1946, one of 12 children who grew up in Locust Ridge, Tenn. So here goes:

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Thank you for writing over 3,000 songs. Literally. Thank you for "Little Sparrow," an album that Broadsheeter Lynn Harris writes "got me through the worst. time. in. my. life." Thank you for creating an eagle preserve at Dollywood. Thank you for "Coat of Many Colors," which makes my friend Heather cry, even if she's in the middle of getting lunch at a salad bar or getting her nails done or shopping at Target. It's really one of the strongest Pavlovian reactions I've ever witnessed.

Thank you for your endless cheesy boob jokes. Thank you for "Steel Magnolias." Thank you for taking Jane Fonda on a bus trip through Appalachia and making her catch and eat a possum so she could write about it in her autobiography. Thank you for the Imagination Library, which gives kids new books every month until they are 5. Thank you for being a crypto-liberal. Thank you from Salon's Andrew Leonard for your cover of "Stairway to Heaven." Thank you for being a gay icon who has never felt the need to deny rumors of lesbianism.

Thank you for "Islands in the Stream." Thank you for being relentlessly honest about the amount of plastic surgery you've had. Thank you for writing one of the best feminist anthems of all time, "9 to 5." Thank you for marrying a man who never wanted to be any part of celebrity life, and then staying married to him for four decades and never once dragging him into the spotlight. Thank you for crediting Norah Jones with giving you the idea to start playing "The Grass Is Blue" on the piano. Thank you for writing a love song -- "I Will Always Love You" -- about your professional mentor, Porter Wagoner. Thank you, as Shakespeare's Sis points out, for having appeared on the cover of Out magazine and for supporting gay marriage.

Thank you for admitting that you modeled your personal style on the town prostitute you used to see as a child. Thank you for producing "Common Threads," the 1989 documentary about the AIDS quilt. Thank you for playing Dora Lee in "9 to 5." Thank you for keeping rhinestone manufacturers in business. Thank you for repeating the line "It costs money to look this cheap" at every possible opportunity. Thank you for being honest about your age.

Thank you for putting your nieces and nephews through college. Thank you for declining Jane magazine's invitation to participate in a feature on "Natural Beauties" by sending a letter explaining that you are "definitely not a natural beauty and would not want to be photographed as one." Thank you for laughing off the assumption that you are a dumb blond by telling people that you are neither dumb nor blond. Thank you for, as Salon's Katharine Mieszkowski's friend Noadiah says, showing "absolute admiration for Jolene, the woman who is stealing [your] man. [You] couldn't even say a discouraging word about her. [You're] very pro-woman." Thank you for sending flowers to the roller-coaster operator at Dollywood whose cousin was sick, and who told Noadiah about it when she went there. Thank you for collaborations with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris on the Trio albums. Thank you for continuing to tour.

Happy birthday, Dolly.

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Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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