The Poetry In Music: Dolly Parton

Yesterday, I participated in The Poetry In Music at Bound To Be Read Books.  A huge thank you is in order to Franklin Abbott, the Godfather of the Atlanta Queer Lit Scene, for taking the time to invite all the poets for the event.  Another huge thank you is in order for Jef & Jeff for hosting Poetry In The Music at their bookstore; they do a fantastic job to support the Atlanta literary community!  I was thrilled to participate in the event with fellow poets Collin KelleyJanet MetzgerRupert FikeBryan BorlandTheresa DavisJef BlockerTaryn CrenshawCrystal Monds and the women of Esoteric LorePoets.  We were asked to discuss one of our favorite singers and share a song by him/her.  I don’t think anyone who has spent more than two minutes with me will be surprised that I discussed Dolly Rebecca Parton.

I began with a quote:

You can’t tell me that people are any way other than what they are supposed to be.  I don’t think gay people are trying to just be different just to make other people miserable.  I think people are being who they are, and I think they should be who they are.  I think we should be a little more tolerant, a little more accepting and understanding of not just the gays but other people, minorities.  We just don’t have enough love to live in this world.
~ Dolly Parton, from an interview with Larry King (Nov. 2010)

I immediately thought of Dolly’s “Shattered Image”  when Franklin asked me to participate in The Poetry In Music.  The message in the song is one that many should abide by, and I appreciate Dolly’s honesty about what inspired “Shattered Image.”   The mantra of the song is that you shouldn’t judge other people.  Dolly, as usual, has amazing lines in the song:

You gather your stones by stooping so low.
You shatter my image with the stones you throw. 

and

If you live in a glass house don’t throw stones.
Don’t shatter my image ’til you look at your own.

and

Don’t open my closet if your own’s full of trash.
Stay out of my closet if your own’s full of trash.

I recall an interview Dolly conducted when promoting her  2002 album Halo & Horns that her life was a bit difficult after move to Nashville.  Dolly moved the day after her high school graduation.  At her graduation ceremony each senior announced what they wanted to do with their lives.  Dolly announced before everyone in the audience that she was going to move to Nashville and become a country music singer.  As the story goes, one that Dolly backs, everyone in the audience laughed at her.  I digress.  Life was tough after her move to Nashville.  Dolly admitted that she would take food from trays that were left in hotel hallways for pickup.  She said people in Nashville were talking about her; some of the things being said were not true and some were.  Dolly’s thought on it all:  “Just because they were true didn’t mean I wanted people talking about it.”  Then she wrote “Shattered Image.”

However, I did not share “Shattered Image.”  Recently, I was hospitalized for three days due to a nasty case of cellulitis.  This experience brought “Light Of A Clear Blue Morning” back into my life.  Dolly had a bitter career breakup with Porter Wagner– a breakup that had to be settled in court.  Dolly stated that after the judge ruled on the case she drove home and pulled up in her driveway as the sun was rising.  She went inside and wrote ” Light Of A Clear Blue Morning.”

It’s been a long dark night 
And I’ve been a waitin’ for the morning 
It’s been a long hard fight 
But I see a brand new day a dawning

I’ve been looking for the sunshine 
‘Cause I ain’t seen it in so long 
But everything’s gonna work out just fine 
Everything’s gonna be all right 
That’s been all wrong

‘Cause I can see the light of a clear blue morning 
I can see the light of a brand new day 
I can see the light of a clear blue morning 
And everything’s gonna be all right 
It’s gonna be okay

It’s been a long long time 
Since I’ve known the taste of freedom 
And those clinging vines 
That had me bound, well I don’t need ‘em

‘Cause I am strong and I can prove it 
And I got my dreams to see me through 
It’s just a mountain, I can move it 
And with faith enough there’s nothing I can’t do

And I can see the light of a clear blue morning 
And I can see the light of brand new day 
I can see the light of a clear blue morning 
And everything’s gonna be all right 
It’s gonna be okay

I can see the light of a clear blue morning 
I can see the light of a brand new day 
Yes I can see the light of a clear blue morning 
And everything’s gonna be all right 
Everything’s gonna be all right 
Everything’s gonna be all right

It’s gonna be okay

‘Cause I can see the light of a clear blue morning 
I can see the light of a clear blue morning 
Yes I can see the light of a clear blue morning 
Everything’s gonna be all right 
It’s gonna be okay

I can see the light 
I can see the light

It’s gonna be all right 
It’s gonna be all right

“Light Of A Clear Blue Morning,” first appeared on Dolly’s 1977 album titled New Harvest…First Gathering, which went to#1 on the country chart and #71 on the pop chart. My favorite arrangement of “Light Of A Clear Blue Morning” is on Dolly’s 2003 album titled For God and Country.I can list more reasons than you would care to know as to why I love Dolly so much. Topping my list is the fact that Dolly is an amazing songwriter who stands true to herself. Dolly has never taken her eyes off her goals and dreams.  Porter Wagner and others in the music industry told Dolly that she would never be famous if she kept writing songs about her mountain roots.  Dolly didn’t listen.  Dolly followed her gut.  Look at the legacy that is Dolly.  Who from her senior class is laughing now?

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