Mindy Smith Says Hello Dolly - Rolling Stone
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Mindy Smith Says Hello Dolly

Young singer-songwriter wows country vet

Mindy Smith moved to Nashville with 300 bucks in her pocket and the
phone number of a friend. When she called, the friend had moved but
the person on the other end was looking for a roommate and the rent
just happened to be 300 bucks a month.

Five years later, Smith is enjoying similar good fortune with
her cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.” Recorded for this year’s
Just Because I’m a Woman, Songs of Dolly Parton tribute
album, Smith’s version has been hailed by Parton as her favorite,
and Dolly’s backed up her praise by going on The Tonight
to belt it out alongside the young singer-songwriter.

“It was a challenge because she has such diehard fans out
there,” says Smith. “It’s her most cut song, so that also was
tricky. Most of Dolly’s songs that I’d heard were the ones from her
later years, like ‘Little Sparrow,” so I was not inhibited by other
people’s arrangements or approaches. It was really from an honest
and fresh place, and I just wanted to honor her as best as I could.
And Dolly just went, ‘I love it,’ and she’s really got behind me as
a writer. Nothing but great stuff has come out of ‘Jolene.'”

Out early next year, Smith’s debut album One Moment
documents her coming of age, with songs like “Raggedy
Ann,” a portrait of an unhappy childhood, and the title track, a
rumination on life and loss.

“It’s about my mom Sharon who passed away from breast cancer,”
says Smith, who first left her native Long Island, New York, after
her mother’s death. “It’s been a great healing song. A lot of
people have thanked me for writing it, because they didn’t know how
to communicate how they fekt. The record is dedicated to her. She
was also a musician and a fabulous singer.”

Smith was a fan of the Cure long before she ever heard Alison
Krauss or Shawn Colvin, and tracks like “It’s Amazing” — penned in
Smith’s ratty Nashville studio apartment — represent the young
songwriter’s bid to transcend the doom and gloom of her early
writing efforts.

“When I first started writing, everyone was like, ‘Why are
you’re songs so sad?'” she says. “With that song, I just had a
nephew and a niece — my sister had a little boy and my other
sister had a little girl — and I was madly in love with them. So I
had to figure out how to incorporate that joy into writing.”


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