Dolly Parton shimmied through the Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie on Saturday night with her longtime band, a menagerie of instruments and what seemed to be several metric tons of cubic zirconia.
“Leave no rhinestone unturned, is what I always say,” she joked, in her charming-as-all-get-out manner.
You learn a lot about Dolly by seeing her live, as she's basking in heavenly spotlights. Her songbook is vast, composed of a half-century’s worth of hit ballads, dance numbers and full-on barn burners. The icon brought all of them to her three-hour set. But it is those moments in between that make her legendary.
In any good honky-tonk, there’s time between songs. Pauses that exist to thank your dance partner, grab a Lone Star and maybe reapply your lipstick. Seasoned country greats like Parton are musicians first, but they’re storytellers as well. They joke and cajole. They set the tone. And they make you forget the troubles outside the doors as they take you through personal memories.
Dolly Parton does all of that, and on Saturday night she did it perfectly. One moment she was reminiscing about her mother’s exceptional creativity and beauty, and how she’d use all of her talents to make her children know they were special and loved. Then Dolly perched herself gracefully on a makeshift porch step and sang "Coat of Many Colors." Her voice is somehow untouched by time’s passing, still showing the clarity of range she had on her earliest albums.
Later, she explained that she got her look by copying her hometown’s “working lady.”
“I’d tell ’em all, 'I want to be just like her when I grow up! She’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen!' But they’d all say, 'Dolly, you don’t want to be like her. She’s trash.' And I’d think, 'Oh! I’m going to be TRASH when I grow up!'”
There were absurd moments too, like the time she said she was feeling “a little saxy” and brought out a teeny tiny saxophone, then whipped through that Benny Hill theme on the thing while dancing around in her glittery high heels.
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She talked about the fires back home and how she can’t wait to go help. And about how after this tour ends she’s going to call on all of her famous friends to help her raise money for the area. (And because she’s Dolly Parton, she’ll do this the most adorable way possible: with a telethon.)
She spoke about how stressful politics are this year — without taking sides, just pointing out all of the fear and unrest in the world. Then she churned out a medley of old protest music ranging from singalong hits by Don McLean to Pete Seeger. Soon, she had a sold-out auditorium swaying back and forth, belting out old family car drive tunes about unity, love and togetherness.
And when it came time to close the night out — after every pairing of best friends or sweethearts danced to "9 to 5" — she proved why she’s the nation’s great unifier.
She pleaded with her crowd to resist the fear and hate in the world and to do our part to pump it back full of love, to change the tide of things. Dolly’s perseverance and contribution to American music have earned her the right to have whatever she wants: even world peace.