“Not sure who is going to wind up in the White House. I was thinking about running. I got the hair and we need more boobs in the race,” joked – on June 8th, 2016 to a sold out crowd at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center. Touring behind a new record called Pure and Simple, out this summer, the show highlighted the pure talent of Parton against a simple stage setup, letting Parton in her rhinestone-studded outfits and and all of her musical talents be the visual on which the audience focused.
The show was equal parts howdown, comedy routine, church session, and fireside chat, with the show broken into two one-hour sets. Parton mixed in hits like “Jolene,” “Coat of Many Colors,” “Islands in the Stream,” and “9 to 5” between tracks from her new record, as well as beautiful traditional Americana songs, which she spoke about in stories of her family and early upbringing. She also manged to play no less than seven different instruments throughout the course of the show (and yes, most were decorated in rhinestones. “I never leave a rhinestone unturned,” she quipped at one point.)
Parton left her signature “I Will Always Love You” for last, dedicating it to the crowd and her fans. From the slow dancing couples on the lawn, to the massive sing-along in the tunnel to the parking lot after the show, it’s obvious that song still resonates wildly with fans. She finished the show with a little plug for her charity Imagination Library, which provides pre-school aged children with a free hardcover book every month from birth to the age of five, and the song, ‘Hello God,” a takeaway reminder to love each other in that emotive voice that only Dolly Parton has.
Whether you like or hate country music, Parton is one of those who everyone loves regardless. From the number of “I LOVE YOU DOLLY” shouts heard throughout the night, to the couple of Dolly drag queens I saw, to large the number of men, women, and little kids wearing big blonde curly wigs, she remains one of those beloved icons. As a friend said about her, “Oh, how I love her. And also, oh I am glad I don’t have young daughters to whom I have to explain her. “Honey, we love Dolly to the ends of the earth but we DO NOT strive to look like her, even though she is clearly the most beautiful creature in all god’s kingdom.”