Dolly Parton is in her “rock star” era.
A year after her induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the sultry country icon releases her first rock album (out November 17), a stirring 30-song collection of classic covers and originals. One of music’s most revered figures, Parton, 77, managed to create an all-star collaboration, singing with The Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, as well as Stevie Nicks, Miley Cyrus and Sting.
Unfortunately, she was unable to realize her dream collaboration with the queen of rock’n’roll herself, Tina Turner, who died in May at the age of 83 after a long illness.
In a recent interview with USA TODAY for her fashion-forward memoir “Behind the Seams: My Life in Rhinestones” (out October 17), Parton discussed her hoped-for duet with Turner as well as other collaborations on “Rockstar.” (For more on “Behind the Seams,” check out our full interview with Parton next month.)
More: Dolly Parton has Elton John, Paul McCartney and Stevie Nicks on upcoming rock album
Question: You mention in your book “Behind the Seams” that your Rock Hall induction outfit was actually inspired by Tina Turner.
Answer: Yes, well, I love Tina Turner. In fact, I didn’t know she was sick – or as sick as she was – and I wanted her to sing on my rock ‘n’ roll album. Chris Lord-Alge, who mixed the album, knew her. He wanted to go there anyway to do business where she lives, so he wanted to bring this to her. And he told me, “You know, she’s not feeling well. I don’t think that’s going to happen.” I was really sad about that because I had the perfect song that we wanted to do. I didn’t even put it on the album. It was a song I wrote called “Stay Out Of My Bedroom” (first recorded with Sylvester Stallone for the 1984 film “Rhinestone”). Maybe I’ll do it another time with someone else.
But I love Tina and the outfit I wore to the Rock & Roll acceptance speech. I thought about her the whole time. It felt like something she would wear. I showed my legs, which are not nearly as nice or as long as hers. (Laughs.)
She recorded her song “There’ll Always Be Music” for her debut solo album (“Tina Turns the Country On!” from 1974). Do you remember how this came about?
I don’t, but I always get compliments when someone wants to do my songs. I can’t even remember what year this was, but it was a long, long time ago when I wrote this. “There will always be music, because music is the voice of the soul” (Dolly sings). I was very proud of it at the time.
Besides Tina, who were your biggest rock ‘n’ roll fashion icons?
I think all people are great. I tried to go as far as I could without offending anyone – or offending myself. I like a lot of the looks I’ve seen on people: Joan Jetts and Pat Benatars. Steven Tyler sang one of the songs on my album (“I Want You Back”). I kept thinking, ‘What am I going to wear to look like Steven Tyler?’ And I felt like, ‘Well, lots of things!’ I’m just in awe of the liberties they all took with their clothing : the leather clothing, the chains, the piercings and all that stuff I wouldn’t dare do. I was just trying to capture this look.
I liked your cover of the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” with Pink and Brandi Carlile. Your voices sound phenomenal together.
I’m so, so happy with it, and so were they! It will be a great thing for us to do at an awards ceremony or something like that one day. Pink really went out of her way to help me because she was in the middle of recording her own album (Trustfall). And of course, Brandi and I have been friends for a long time. I have the greatest love and respect for Brandi. I was so glad we did it.
You sound incredible on “Purple Rain” too. It’s obviously very daunting to follow Prince, but you really embrace it.
Well, I’ve always loved this song, like everyone else. I used to go around and sing that all the time. Of course, when I imagined this album, I thought, “I’m going to do this, and do it well.” I’ve always loved Prince. I really admired his writings and could really identify with the way he dressed. He could be a little over the top, and I always have. So I really relate to him in a lot of ways, as silly as that sounds. And because we’re short people, we like to dress a certain way to accentuate our bodies – we like form-fitting clothing. However, I thought this song was great. I love his music, but this has always been my favorite.
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