Dolly Parton doesn’t miss many opportunities.
So when the newly minted Rock & Roll Hall of Famer – who initially balked at being inducted into a shrine labeled “rock” – acquiesced and accepted the honor in November, it also sparked an idea.
If the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame wants Dolly, then Dolly will give the world some rock ‘n’ roll.
Who is singing on Dolly’s new rock album?
Her double album “Rock Star” – “a tongue in cheek title,” Parton tells USA TODAY with a giggle – is expected in late summer/early fall and the anticipated 28 tracks are stuffed with marquee names, many of them one-word recognizables (Elton, McCartney, Miley, Fogerty).
But Parton is a bit, well, unsatisfied that she still can’t corral one famously wiry rock star – but more on him in a moment.
The indefatigable Parton is also channeling her energy into her new baking line with Duncan Hines; she released the song “Don’t Make Me Have to Come Down There” on her recent 77th birthday; and she just teamed with ‘80s mavens Cyndi Lauper, Gloria Estefan and Belinda Carlisle for the Diane Warren-penned “Gonna Be You,” heard in the new “80 for Brady” movie. (It is not lost on Parton that her participation in the song tangentially connects her to longtime “9 to 5” pals Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, who star in the film.)
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What was the controversy around Dolly’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction?
As she beams in from Nashville, Parton is visibly jazzed to discuss her upcoming album and spill some details about the songs and stars helping her fulfill a rock ‘n’ roll fantasy.
Question: Let’s flash back to the night of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ceremony. What was going through your head when you’re standing on stage with Rob Halford of Judas Priest and Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran and Pink and other artists, all singing “Jolene”?
Answer: It really was a cool moment. That was one of the highlights of my life.
Did you feel like you made it as a rock star?
I kinda felt like it at that moment. I even wrote a song for that moment (“Rockin’”). I didn’t mean to make a controversy of any kind (by initially refusing to be considered for induction). I just didn’t know that I should be in the Rock Hall and take any votes away from all of the great (rock) artists. But when they told me what it was all about and why, I accepted it gracefully… (Then) I thought, If I’m ever gonna do a rock ‘n’ roll album, it’s gonna be right now. I’m gonna be real proud to have that as part of my legacy.
How far along are you on the album?
I’ve got Elton (John) and Paul McCartney on it, Stevie (Nicks) and I just did our song together a couple of days ago. Miley (Cyrus), John Fogerty, Joan Jett, Pink, Brandi Carlile. We have a lot of iconic artists singing a lot of iconic songs, Hopefully we’re gonna have Annie Lennox – she and Cher doing (Eurythmics) “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This.” There are some covers and some of the big artists are singing on my originals as well.
What can you tell us about those songs?
Well, Simon (Le Bon) is singing a song I wrote, “My Blue Tears.” I was so excited because I could just hear his voice on it. He has that beautiful high voice and it’s an Irish-sounding love song with bagpipes. It’s a love song about when a fella goes off to war and leaves his sweetheart behind and she cries her lonely blue tears and he’s on the other side crying his lonely blue tears. It’s a big range that Simon will be great at.
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Are you still trying to get Mick Jagger?
I wanted a song for just me and Mick – “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” – and Brandi and Pink are now singing on it. I’m still waiting for Mick to come on back. He might come through. If not, I’ll kick his bony ass when I see him!
Dolly’s favorite moments recording her rock album
What have been the most enjoyable moments of recording the album?
I had fun singing with Stevie (Nicks). It’s a song she wrote called “What Has Rock ‘n Roll Ever Done for Me,” a cute little song. And John Fogerty, he’s written so many great songs, but I always loved “Long As I Can See the Light.” We did that as a duet and our voices were so good together. I’ve been on a high – without being high like some of the rock ‘n’ rollers (laughs).
Who is left to record?
Kent Wells, my musical director for 30 years is producing (the album) and he’s in Los Angeles now recording Steven Tyler on an original and Steve Perry on “Open Arms.” We have so many wonderful singers. I’m gonna have to get on back to Mick (Jagger) and say, “You’re gonna be sorry and you’re gonna have a knot on your head that you’re never gonna get over”… I’m gonna go get him and drag him right in.