Dolly Parton is a Good Woman

I don't think much of the Vox piece either, but the Hot Air summary doesn't do it justice.  They actually did have one good point, which is that the Pigeon Forge attraction Dixie Stampede was in amazingly bad taste. There are videos and photos at the link. It was awful, up to and including segregation jokes in the bathrooms. 

Anyone who has ever been to Pigeon Forge, though -- and if you haven't, I strongly recommend that you never go -- knows that the whole town is in tremendously bad taste. The basic concept appears to have been to construct a Disneyland around hillbilly and Old South stereotypes. It's amazing to me that so much bad taste could exist, let alone be contained in a single place. Don't blame Dolly for Pigeon Forge; there's too much blame there for any one person to carry.

What Dolly has done for poor kids from that very poor part of Appalachia, though, deserves the highest respect. She grew up in really tough circumstances, and she hasn't forgotten those who are still doing so. Few escape such circumstances, but far fewer do well by those who come behind them.

So watch this old video Instapundit found. That's her at 14, playing for one of Cas Walker's shows. Now I can tell you a bit about Cas Walker, because Dad used to talk about him sometimes. He rain a chain of stores and was something of a politician in and around Knoxville in the old days. To further his political ambitions, he'd bring singers and musicians like Dolly Parton and others down from the nearby mountains to play at his radio and in-person shows, and later also a television show. That got his shows attention so he could put out his political message. 

Dad's favorite one of these stories was about Cas Walker's railing against the enforcement of drunk driving laws. He called for the police to abandon one particular checkpoint, which they'd been working regularly. "Some of our best citizens," he said, "are getting caught up in these police stops."

My mother didn't have much to say about Cas Walker, because her mother was too virtuous by the standards of the day to allow her to listen to Dolly Parton and her ilk. "My mother didn't approve of 'string music,' as she called it,' Mom told me, meaning anything but a capella singing. Her mother was brought up Primitive Baptist, which didn't permit instruments in the church. Those old country songs that Dolly grew up with weren't quite pure enough for my grandmother, let alone my great-grandmother, who was apparently a terrifying figure who lived to 97 years' age.

On the other hand, from my mother's report, the Primitive Baptist singing was not that great and could have used some accompaniment to cover up its flaws. But I suppose that'd be like women using make-up, which is definitely forbidden according to certain quite similar readings of the Bible. 

Even so, the old Primitive Baptists were more forgiving than the current woke lot. They may not have liked it, nor partook of it, but they did coexist with it. We're lucky, because it turns out there's a lot of value in things like Dolly Parton.


Aggie said...

I have a lot of respect for Dolly even though I don't have much love for country music. There is a quality of genuine-ness that shines through and is reflected, as your say, in what she gives back.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Transylvanians were deeply insulted by the American and Western European attitudes about their legitimate historical hero, Vlad Dracul, who actually did keep the incredibly violent Turks at bay for a few decades. Then they learned that those tourists paid good money to come and see overdramatic pictures, go on tours, and buy cheap souvenirs. They threw over their history in about ten years. Family has to eat, y'know?

Aggie said...

That's show business! As Dolly has said herself, "It costs a lotta money to look this cheap."

Texan99 said...

Primitive Baptist singing not up to snuff! Bite your tongue. Raucous in vocal tone and style, I agree. At the shape-note gatherings I sometimes attend, they will quietly and tactfully speak to anyone who brings an instrument to play on the premises even during breaks. I can remember one leader gently remarking, "That just doesn't have a place here." I think they realize that people come to the singing from a lot of different backgrounds, including pure folk-music interest, and they don't assume we have a clue that they don't believe in instruments for church music, so we're not deliberately offending, and there's no fire-and-brimstone attitude about it at all. It may be very different for the family members, though.