Dolly Parton caused a major stir earlier this week when she announced her plans for a two-CD album release and her first extensive tour in 25 years. The album, titled Pure & Simple With Dolly’s Biggest Hits, will slot one disc of stripped-down new songs with a second one of her most-loved classics.
“I figure I gotta get it while the getting’s good,” the entertainer tells Rolling Stone Country. “But it is my biggest hits like ‘Jolene,’ ‘I Will Always Love You,’ ‘Islands in the Stream’ — all the things that people expect to hear.”
Inspired by a series of one-off shows she played in 2015 — including a pair of sold-out nights at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium — the Pure & Simple Tour will take Parton’s new show to 60 cities in 2016. Those Ryman shows featured Parton returning to her personal and musical origins, essentially retelling her life story through song.
“The tour itself is called Pure & Simple, mainly because it’s kind of scaled down,” says Parton. “But there’s only four of us on stage, we play different instruments and we all sing and we do all those songs that people know, but they’re just not as big and we don’t have a lot of effects on stage and any of that. We did some shows at the Ryman and at Dollywood with that particular show all scaled down and people loved it. I got the best reviews I ever got.”
Back in September, Parton’s friend Kenny Rogers gave her a review that she still isn’t sure how to interpret. During a Dollywood performance, Rogers praised his “Islands in the Stream” duet partner’s effusive, colorful personality and got cheers by saying she had “become the Donald Trump of country music.” Though Parton has always refrained from discussing politics or religion, she does agree that her character may have something in common with the leading Republican presidential candidate.
“Me and Donald kind of have the same hair,” quips the superstar in trademark fashion. “[Kenny] could have meant that too. . . and he does talk about the fact that I’ll just say whatever’s on my mind.”