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Exclusive First Listen: Dolly Parton’s America Got Its Start With an Unlikely Friendship  – Fox News

Exclusive First Listen: Dolly Parton’s America Got Its Start With an Unlikely Friendship – Fox News


Like most great ideas, a podcast about Dolly Parton made by Radiolab’s Jad Abumrad might seem a little, well, random But as two people deeply marked by their childhoods in the American South, who left home to pursue creative careers that examine how people live, Abumrad and Parton had no trouble finding common ground  And besides, Parton can make a connection with just about anyone. “Dolly started being on the radio when she was 10, and now she’s 73,” Abumrad said in a recent interview “She’s touched every social movement that’s happened in that time, she’s been a part of every aspect of our changing country, and she’s documented it all in her songs ” So when Abumrad set out to understand Parton’s impact on America, it’s no wonder that he found her nearly everywhere After almost two years of work, Dolly Parton’s America premieres this month, a nine-part podcast series that explores Parton’s impact on country music, the United States, and the world Below you can hear an exclusive excerpt from the first episode, in which Abumrad dives into Parton’s early music and finds a depth he never expected: “It’s almost impossible to overstate her influence [in Nashville],” said Abumrad, who grew up in Nashville as the child of Lebanese immigrants “There she is on billboards on every street corner. She’s playing, in any given moment, from 12 car speakers at once—just kind of in the atmosphere She’s such a mammoth figure in Nashville that I didn’t even really notice her growing up She was like the air.” Like most people, though, Abumrad felt he knew more about Dolly Parton’s jokes than her work, and it took the 2016 election to change that He noticed that Parton’s fans traverse the rural and urban, liberal and conservative, queer and straight divides, and wondered how she manages to pull everyone together His dad, Naji Abumrad, had part of the answer. A Nashville doctor who was raised in rural Lebanon before he moved to Beirut for medical school and eventually to the United States, he met Parton through Vanderbilt Hospital in 2014 and gave her some advice Eventually the two struck up a friendship, and the younger Abumrad had an in. “One of the things that you begin to realize about Dolly is that she is telling a story that is almost universal,” Abumrad said “Coming down the mountains to conquer the world, but also longing for the place you left and missing it very much It’s my dad’s story, and that is very much the story of all people around the world who left rural places and moved to the city ”Most Popular John Legend and Chrissy Teigen on Love, Childhood Traumas, and the “Sh–ty Human Being” in the White HouseBy Karen Valby The Bizarre, Strangely Familiar Nightmare of Impeaching Donald TrumpBy Bess Levin Ten Years Ago, I Called Out David Letterman This Month, We Sat Down to Talk.By Nell ScovellAdvertisement In November 2017, Abumrad and Parton first sat down to talk at a studio in Nashville When he realized that one conversation probably wouldn’t be enough, he decided he should try to make a podcast, and a four-part series eventually ballooned to nine  “When I finally started talking to Dolly—and talking to people who think about her deeply and love her deeply—it was just this experience of falling into a million rabbit holes,” Abumrad said “Rabbit holes about feminism, about the South, and about Appalachia. It was like all of these little mini universes of America became visible to me that I hadn’t seen ” Abumrad wasn’t alone. When he visited a class called Dolly Parton’s America at the University of Tennesee’s Knoxville campus, he realized his project had a name  Figuring out those mini universes meant that he had to understand the music. As he explains in the first episode, he discovered an emotional depth and despair in her early work, a period of her career Parton describes thusly: “Oh, I used to write a lot of sad-ass songs ” Naturally, “Sad Ass Songs” is the first episode’s title. A recording of a 1967 interview with a 21-year-old Parton serves as a lodestar for that first episode In the interview she talks about her upbringing in the hills of the Smoky Mountains, and the fact that she moved to Nashville to pursue her career the day after graduating from high school She’s a little meeker than the Dolly we’ve come to know, still much closer to her upbringing in dire circumstances than to the larger-than-life stage star She also talks about some of those so-called sad-ass songs, and Abumrad realized the extent to which they bear witness to the hardships and violence that women faced during the time of her childhood  In Abumrad’s hands, this leads to an excavation of the history of murder ballads and a conversation about feminists (and why Dolly doesn’t consider herself one) The show only spins out from there over the subsequent eight episodes, eventually going around the world, taking on class and race, and even talking about the world’s first cloned sheep—named Dolly  There is plenty to learn about the country icon, but Dolly Parton’s America puts the emphasis on getting lost in her world “I always feel like the stuff I do is inductive, as opposed to deductive. Deductive is like Sherlock Holmes—standing above it and sleuthing his way through Inductive is like you’re lost in the middle of it. And then, as you’re kind of lost, something emerges in front of you,” he said “It literally began with me just saying, Wow, Dolly is fascinating.”More Great Stories from Vanity Fair — The best-dressed stars at the 2019 Emmys— A sprinkle of Meghan magic in Cape Town— Nancy Pelosi masters impeachment style— Cracking the mysteries of The Masked Singer’s strangest creation— Will this wedding gift save the environment?— From the Archive: The undisputed philosopher prince who saved Chanel Looking for more? Sign up for our daily newsletter and never miss a story

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