Dolly Parton Is Planning Her Musical Afterlife

She can keep making new music indefinitely ...

Written by Chris Parton
Dolly Parton Is Planning Her Musical Afterlife
Dolly Parton hosting the 53rd Annual CMA Awards,” on Wednesday, November 13, 2019; airing live on ABC from Bridgestone Arena in Downtown Nashville; Photo courtesy of CMA

Country icon Dolly Parton released her first album in 1967 and hasn’t taken a break since. But now 73 years old, she knows a time will come when that’s no longer possible. Luckily, the Hall of Famer has a plan.

Speaking on a recent episode of the NPR podcast, Dolly Parton’s America, the living legend explains that she’s preparing to leave behind a massive amount of unfinished music … and she says it’s up to us to keep her legacy going.

“I am a lucky person because I’ve got hundreds, even thousands of songs and a big part of them haven’t even been recorded,” Parton says. “There’s enough stuff to go on forever with my music — to do compilation albums, actually, new and original stuff, and I am purposely trying to put songs down for that very purpose. To have a click track and my vocals, to where any arrangement can be done. So I think ahead.”

In plain language, that means Parton is currently recording a huge amount of unheard songs, but she’s not bothering to put instrumentation around her lyrics. It’s just her unmistakable vocal and a click track — which is like an electronic metronome, keeping her on the beat and making it easy to add whatever kind of music a producer would like later on. That means Parton’s voice could be placed into any musical context the future dreams up — and that’s exactly what she wants.

“Any producer anywhere in the world, when I’m gone they can take my songs, just the click track of my vocal and build a complete arrangement around that — any style, anything,” she says. “As you know, if you have a good click track and a vocal, anything can be done with that. So that will go on forever. I’m one of those people that believe in being prepared. I don’t want to ever leave my stuff in the same shape like Prince or Aretha [Franklin], or anybody that don’t plan ahead with that.”

“For me, as far as what I hope my music will be left behind, I hope that it will always live,” she adds.

Listen to the full episode below: