Thursday, March 31, 2022

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Vote '22: Dolly Parton


Let’s start off with an easy one: Dolly Parton has already requested that her name be removed from consideration and that the voters not cast their ballots for her. Given that this is the first time that Dolly has ever asked anything of me, I’m very much inclined to indulge her.

THE SONG: “Jolene” reminds me of all those Sinatra saloon songs, where one of the most desirable men of the 20th century gets his heart tossed across the room like a dirty rag. How can a woman as beautiful and sexy and talented as Dolly Parton fear that someone could steal her man, just because she can? But Dolly makes us believe in her terror. If this kind of thing can befall the likes of Dolly Parton, what horrible fates lie in store for the rest of us? What indeed? Plus, this clip features her onetime partner, the great Porter Wagoner.

THE CASE FOR: Dolly Parton is a legend, an icon, a brilliant singer and songwriter and a national treasure. She was hitting the country charts as early as 1966 with the ironic “Dumb Blonde,” when she was just 20. "I'm not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I'm not dumb,” she supposedly said, “and I also know I'm not blonde," She had so many country hits that The Best of Dolly Parton was released in 1970, when bangers like “Coat of Many Colors” and “Jolene” were still ahead of her.

Dolly started breaching the pop charts in 1977, when “Here You Come Again” hit No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. She eventually reached Number One with “9 to 5,” then repeated the feat with 1983’s “Islands in the Stream,” a duet with Kenny Rogers. Meanwhile, she had 20 solo Number One hits on the country charts, from “Joshua” in 1970 to “Yellow Roses” in 1989.

And man alive, in addition to all that, she’s Dolly Parton. She had her own theme park, her own variety show, various movies and TV specials. She's Miley Cyrus' godmother. She also donated $1 million to Covid-19 vaccine research at Vanderbilt University, then publicly was one of the first people to get the vaccine.

Dolly seems overqualified for whatever recognition she wants to receive. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? Kennedy Center Honors? Cy Young Award? How could anyone say no to any of this?

 THE CASE AGAINST: Dolly has asked to be withdrawn from consideration for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, saying "I really do not want votes to be split because of me, so I must respectfully bow out. I do hope that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame will understand and be willing to consider me again — if I'm ever worthy." By “worthy,” she apparently means if she ever records rock & roll, since she added that the honor of being nominated “inspired me to make a hopefully great rock 'n' roll album at some point in the future."

Dolly is smart enough to know that she’s not a rock & roll artist. Even when she was crossing over to the pop charts in the late 1970s, it was with pure MOR pop.  During her heyday on the pop charts, from 1977 to 1983, she had significantly more success on the Adult Contemporary charts.

Is being a country & western legend enough to warrant entry into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? Johnny Cash has long since been inducted, of course, as well as Hank Williams as an early influence. But Merle Haggard isn’t, nor are George Jones and Loretta Lynn. I don’t know if Dolly should be in line ahead of or behind those people, but if they aren’t in, it’s hard to say that Dolly’s induction is necessary.

 MY VERDICT: Even before Dolly asked to have her name withdrawn, I was leaning against voting for her. Not that I have anything against her as a person or an artist, but she has virtually nothing to do with rock & roll. I love the Gershwins’ music, too, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stump for them for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

But then once she asked not to be considered, well, I think I have to respect that. I’m going to vote, will all due respect, NO on Dolly Parton.