Why is Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors on my best 1,000 albums ever list?
This coat expertly spans country and pop.
What does Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?
Dolly Parton was a pretty huge pop culture presence throughout my entire childhood. Not only was she already a musical icon when I was a young ‘un, but she also was a movie star in her own right.
9 to 5 – starring Parton, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dabney Coleman – was a cable television staple in the early to mid-‘80s, and with good reason: it’s a wickedly fun and well written movie that pokes at both Reagan’s go go 1980s and at the smart, talented women in the workplace forced to endure terrible bosses and abundant glass ceilings both. As an aside, later in the 1980s, Working Girl would pick up on many of the same things, though with a somewhat different tone and in a (mostly) romantic comedy context.
“9 to 5” the song, by Dolly Parton of course, is probably my favorite all time song of hers. It has a fantastic, driving beat and accompanies the vibe of the movie perfectly.
I mention all of this in part because it was quite a discovery for me to go back into Dolly Parton’s catalog to find Coat of Many Colors, a consistently stellar album dating back to 1971.
The title track is the best song on the album, but not by much. It’s a pretty song with a compelling lyrical narrative, and on this song and album both the production perfectly spotlights Parton’s voice. It also showcases how well Parton can bridge country and pop, perhaps as well as anyone ever has.
“Traveling Man” has a fun, upbeat thrust to it and perhaps I’m crazy but you can almost hear a little Bob Dylan-vibe to the melody.
Songs like “Here I Am” slow things down a bit, allowing Parton to show off her voice when belting out emotional lyrics.
Pop culture stuff that’s somehow related to Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors
I probably wrote off “Islands in the Stream” as cheesy back in the day, but Parton’s collaboration with Kenny Rogers… okay, it’s still kind of cheesy, but cheesy’s not always a bad thing. It’s a strong duet, especially the chorus.
Speaking of Kenny, spoiler alert: there will not be a Kenny Rogers entry on this here best 1,000 albums ever list. Sorry, “Gambler” fanatics, sometimes you need to know when you fold ‘em, know what I mean?
But have you seen this side of Kenny Rogers? If I can blow just one person’s mind with “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In,” from Rogers’ First Edition days, I’ve done my job.
Dig the heaviness, as my man Stephen King would say.
Personal stuff that’s somehow related to Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors
Okay, here are a few more fun facts involving Kenny Rogers while we’re on the topic, and since I may not get the opportunity on another entry.
Kenny Rogers was also a movie star back in the day. I recall kind of enjoying the movie Six Pack – in which Rogers plays a race car driver – when I was a little kid, but I’m not all that confident that it holds up well.
“Kiss off, mister!”
A few other quick anecdotes involving Kenny Rogers and my parents:
- I recall that they attended a Kenny Rogers concert and while they enjoyed it overall, were clearly disappointed that Rogers forgot the lyrics to his own songs a few times.
- Despite this disappointment, they would occasionally go out to dinner at Kenny Rogers Roasters, a “chicken-based restaurant,” on Long Island, New York.
Some stats & info about Dolly Parton – Coat of Many Colors
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Pop Music, Country
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – #257
- All Music’s rating – 5 out of 5 stars
- When was Coat of Many Colors released? 1971
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #784 out of 1,000
Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors on Spotify
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.