I imagine optimism incarnate to look somewhat like Dolly Parton. This past Wednesday, Parton burst onto the Verizon Amphitheatre stage, glittering fiddle in hand and decked out in a blinding white satin dress smattered in silver sequins. Seeing her gleefully flounce around to a mashup of Katrina and the Waves’ infectious “Walking on Sunshine” and the inspiring “Shine Like the Sun” (off Parton’s latest album Better Day) forced even the most curmudgeon, jaded journalist to grin. Toward the end of “Sunshine,” Parton stood mid-stage positioning herself as our positivity prophet and declared, “We need to feel good!”
Parton’s mission of late is just that. With Better Day and the corresponding world tour, she’s aiming to replace thoughts of war, natural disasters and declining salaries with pure, unabashed hope… and she’s wildly succeeding. By the time she launched into her 1977 pop smash “Here You Come Again” almost two hours later, I was swaying back and forth, arm in arm, with Jan, a farmer’s wife and mother of four, who’d driven two hours from Eatonton, Ga. We’d only just met when the concert began, but Jan and I represented the thousands of others in the crowd—we were all in the same blissful boat where people actually cared for their fellow man. Any negativity was gone. We’d been Dollyized.
Continuing in that spirit, here are five easy ways to Dollyize your day to make it a little better:
5) Watch Dolly Rap: During her Atlanta set, Parton sang cuts from her upcoming film Joyful Noise, which she shot here in Atlanta with Queen Latifah. Discussing the storyline prompted Parton to take some loving jabs at Latifah, but on the latter’s musical turf: rap. No high-minded message here, just a good laugh at Parton’s expense.
4) Follow Dolly on Twitter: Over 1,000,000 followers and counting! Parton offers daily affirming (and often hilarious) Dollyisms like “If you see someone without a smile, give ‘em yours” and “I love bald men. Just because you’ve lost your fuzz, don’t mean you ain’t a peach!”
3) Pick-up Better Day: Parton’s 41st studio album proves to be one of her best. She preaches of “good times on the rise” on the title track and even takes on fanatical religious doomsday sayers on “In the Meantime,” singing “We worry about earthquakes, aliens from outer space, nuclear holocaust/We’re so consumed with the fear of dyin’ the joy of livin’ is lost.”
2) Watch 9 to 5: This 1980 classic finds Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Parton (in her first movie) dreaming of ways to do in their “sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical, bigot” of a boss. Thirty years later, folks are more overworked and underpaid than ever. Let 9 to 5 give you a little therapeutic catharsis after a long, frustrating day at the office.
1) Give Back: Nothing fills the heart like helping others — a lesson Parton knows well. Her Imagination Library sends books to kids every month from the time they’re born until they start school. Parton’s own father couldn’t read or write, inspiring her to form the non-profit which has grown to 1300 communities across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Donate at www.imaginationlibrary.com