Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Larry King Live

Interview With Dolly Parton

Aired November 23, 2010 - 21:00   ET



LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight. The one, the only, Dolly Parton.

DOLLY PARTON, AWARD-WINNING SINGER: Lord, I've got a lot to be happy about and I know try to show it. Especially when I'm with you.

KING: On working with Queen Latifah.

PARTON: But I have a feeling I may get hip-hopped a lot now that I'm working with her.

KING: On leaving Miley Cyrus alone.

PARTON: I think we should just let her grow up.

KING: On Taylor Swift.

PARTON: I think she is a smart, beautiful girl.

KING: And me.

PARTON: We're going to miss the tar out of you.



KING: Good evening. What a great holiday week guest. Dolly Parton, the award-winning singer, songwriter, one of the most successful musicians ever. The actress, author and the owner of Dollywood Theme Park. This is her tenth, by the way, and last appearance on our show while we're still a show.

Always happy to see the incomparable Dolly.

Here is a sampling of some of her appearances on this program. Watch.


PARTON: Talking about me not running for president because they asked me if I would. I told him I think we've had enough boobs in the White House. So I'm glad it worked out, though. I love being on your show. (END OF VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Why are you -- why are you always upbeat? Anything we ever do with you Dolly is never down.

PARTON: Well, I want to be my best for you. I mean of course you wouldn't want me to come on your show being down, would you?


PARTON: Of course I'm like everybody else. I have my moments but for the most part I've got a lot to be happy about and I now try to show it especially when I'm with you.


KING: OK. Now you're in Orlando for a reason. She's coming to us from the Orange County Convention Center. You've earned multiple Grammys, a Country Music Awards. Too numerous to mention. National Medal of the Arts, Kennedy Center honoree, nominated for Oscars, Golden Globes and an Emmy, and now Dollywood won last night the prestigious Applause Award.

Tell me about that.


KING: What is that?

PARTON: Well, actually, it's a -- I'll show it to you. It's heavy but I wanted you to see it. Can you see that?

KING: It's hands applauding. Nice.

PARTON: There.

KING: Nice. Nice.

PARTON: Yes, it is. And they actually give these out every other year. And this is the first time we've received it. They -- you only get it one time. But it's really a very prestigious thing. It's really kind of like winning an Oscar in show business.

But it really says that you are the number one park in the world. Not just the United States but all over the world. And it's voted on by a committee of your peers. And so we were very fortunate that we got it this year.

We have a wonderful park in Dollywood, wonderful people there that keep it running. And you get -- they vote on it for cleanliness, beauty, the shows and everything that just kind of says this is a wonderful place for families and people to go. So we're very proud and very honored down here.

KING: How long has Dollywood been open? PARTON: Well, like you, this is my 25th anniversary. We're -- actually, we've had a lot of wonderful things going on all year and we've celebrated. We had a special. And then to be able to win this to kind of top off our 25th year, it was a wonderful thing. So we opened in '86.

KING: Dolly, how did it come about? You know we've done a lot of talks in the past and Dollywood is a fabulous place. But not many country music artists have their own amusement park. How did that come about?

PARTON: Well, actually, it's a theme park. But it does have amusement areas in it. And I was always fascinated with the county fair growing up back in the mountains of east Tennessee. As you know, I'm from a big family. We didn't get out too much and have -- you know get to have a lot of fun.

I mean, as far as things like that. So when the county fair would come to town, we would get to go. The school would take us so I was always impressed with that. And after I got into show business, I always thought, well, it'd be wonderful if I could do something great for my home county, provide jobs for the people in the area because it was a very rural and poor area.

And really to have a place for people to go to have fun. So it started out in a very sincere way. And when we opened, it was just a hit right out of the chute, although a lot of my business people thought I was making a mistake. They don't think that now. But it was just a wonderful thing to do and it's just been a great thing for us.

KING: And it's in Penny Forge, Tennessee. Now if it's in an outlying area, remote area, where you grew up, do people have a hard time finding it?

PARTON: Oh, no. It's right on the main highway. Pigeon Forge is an area -- it's from Knoxville and you go right up to Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

So it's right on the main road into the national park where we have at least, what, 10 million people a year, I suppose, coming in and out of the Smoky Mountains National Park. So it's situated in a great area. It's kind of off the beaten path, just a little but it's got all the signs saying Dollywood that way.


PARTON: But it's really -- that area has really grown a lot in the last several years. But the Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg have always been wonderful. Sevier County is a great area. So it's just a good place to have a business.

KING: Were you always -- most singers are interested only in singing. Were you always interested in the business side of things?

PARTON: Yes. I think I've got my business notions and my sense for that sort of thing from my dad. My dad never had a chance to go to school. He couldn't read and write. But he was so smart. He was just one of those people that could just make the most of anything and everything that he had to work with.

And it was, you know, obvious he had to with raising 12 kids, just a farmer. Later on he worked on construction. But my dad was really, really smart. And I think I got a lot of that from him.

And my mother's people are very creative so thankfully I had the creative stuff to make a way for my -- you know, for my business sense. But I enjoy the business end of things and I look at it like show business.

I mean, I love being in show business. But I like to look and work the business end of it as well. So when I see an opportunity, I jump all over it.

KING: But it does add responsibility in that people work for you, people are dependent on you whereas most people who are singers, they travel, they sing. They don't have hundreds of people responsible to make a living.

PARTON: Well, that's true. We actually are the number one employer in all of east Tennessee. We hire about 3,000 people with our Dixie Stampede Dinner theaters, with our Splash Country and Dollywood, all the Dollywood companies there.

And we've actually paid out $1 billion in salaries since we started Dollywood. But I do enjoy being part of all that. I have -- I have surrounded myself with very smart people. I certainly wouldn't claim to be able to do all that myself. But at least I'm smart enough to know I've got to get good, smart people to help with all of those things.

And I have wonderful partners and wonderful people that help with all of that and make me look good.

KING: Do you think you were driven by the fact that you were raised so poor?

PARTON: I think so. I think that I know the value of a dollar. I know that I always wanted things. I was always proud of my people, proud of my home but I always wanted more. I think most people do.

And not just for myself but for my family as well. I wanted to do well, to make them proud as well as being able to help out. And so I think that a lot of that did come from not having anything growing up.

But it's wonderful to still be able to go home, be a part of all that and have all the people in the county love me and appreciate me. And, you know, it makes me feel like I've stayed at home and that I have people that are proud of me. Not just my own family, but everybody in the whole area.

I just feel like I'm still part of them and they're part of me. KING: She's a national institution. Dolly Parton is our guest for the full show tonight. And we are celebrating anniversaries together. Dollywood. And she gets the Applause Award, too. And we'll be right back. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Dolly Parton. Do you remember your first paycheck?

PARTON: Yes, I do. I still have my first paycheck. It was just I think a dollar or two that I got when I started as a songwriter with BMI and I had some songs there that I had through the company and in the mail I got this big old check for like a dollar and a half, or something. Somebody had recorded one of my songs. So somewhere in my things I have -- I have my first check.

KING: Are you always writing songs?

PARTON: Yes. I write a lot of songs. I've got thousands of songs. I really haven't counted them. People always ask me that. Years and years ago someone asked me. I said probably two or 3,000 but I'm sure there's many hundreds more now because I love to write. It's my favorite thing that I do.

And I just -- it's my way of expressing myself. It's a way to express the feelings of people I love that are not able to put it down on paper or rhyme it in words. So it's a great outlet and it's fun. It's a hobby, a joy and a job.

KING: What was your first hit?

PARTON: My first hit. I guess the first big hit -- I did not write. My first radio record was a song Curly Putman wrote. It was my first top 10 record. It was called "Dumb Blondes," which I've become kind of famous for.

But actually I started writing songs during that period of time myself. But the first big songs that I started having would be "Jolene" and the original version of "I Will Always Love You," "Coat of Many Colors." All of those were -- I think "Code of Many Colors" was in the late '60s. That was one of the very first hits that I had.

KING: All right.

PARTON: "Tennessee Mountain Home" and then the '70s brought "Jolene" and "I Will Always Love you" and some other songs you recognize.

KING: "I Will Always Love You" has been covered a lot, hasn't it?

PARTON: Yes, it has. That's been the biggest moneymaking song that I've ever had. Of course Whitney Houston made it such a popular record from "The Bodyguard" movie and Kevin Costner had chosen that song to use in the movie. And so it became world famous and it's known as the number one love song in all the world which makes me feel very proud to be part of that. But yes, that one has been around a while.

KING: Last time you were here Barack Obama had just been sworn in as president. You said that you were excited, thought he'd do great.


KING: How is he doing?

PARTON: Well, he's certainly not as popular now as he was then but I'm still praying for him. I'm still hoping that he does well. It's just -- these are hard times. I don't think it would matter who is in the White House. I think we're going to always crucify them and -- because if we can't make it happen overnight then we're -- you know we just don't know what to do.

So I'm just hoping that whoever is in the White House at any time, you know, just tries to help, you know, the country just do better. So I'm for anybody that's trying to help us out. And I think he's trying.

KING: Do you ever look -- you look at your upbringing, you look at all that's happened to you. Do you ever look in the mirror and kind of pinch yourself?


PARTON: Well, I do feel very fortunate. When I look in the mirror, that's not what I'm thinking.


PARTON: I pinch myself here and pinch myself there. Say, what can I pull up? Maybe that needs to go. But anyway, I do pinch myself sometimes thinking that, you know, this is really amazing.

I thank God every day for it. I'm very humbled by it, because I know so many people that have had the same dreams that I've had that never get to see them come true. So I know a certain amount of it is luck. A lot of it is hard work. I've been very fortunate.

I do work hard and I've always said I have more guts than talent, but I try to keep those two things balanced and I try when I have a dream to kind of get it out there and push it -- you know, push it on through.

KING: I understand you're doing the movie "Joyful Noise" with Queen Latifah. Tell me about it.

PARTON: Yes, I'm very excited about that. It's a Warner Brothers picture and we have been in L.A. together for the last couple of weeks. We've been working on some pre-records for the music. We really liked each other a lot. Our personalities are very compatible, which I thought they would be. I knew I would love working with her. And I had never met her though until then. We'd talked on the phone after we started talking about doing the movie.

But our voices blended really well. Our personalities seemed to really, you know, gel. So I think we're going to have a lot of fun doing it and it looks like it's going to be a wonderful show. It was written and will be directed by a guy named Todd Graf. And he's done a wonderful script.

It's about -- it's a music-driven movie. It's not a musical but it's got a lot of music gospel, uplifting songs. And so it's about a choir that competes around the country with different choirs. So it's got a lot of fun, a lot of music, a lot of joy and I think it's going to make people feel real good once they leave the theater, provided they come which we hope they do.

KING: You always do. We'll be right back with Dolly Parton. Don't go away.



PARTON: I have a special surprise for you tonight.


PARTON: Oh, I'm always ready.

Sam is so confused, he doesn't know whether to scratch his watch or wind his butt.

I'm going to get that gun of mine and I'm going to change you from a rooster to a hen with one shot.

Pretty. There are two kinds of people in this world, and you ain't one of them.

Now would I want to disappoint my little honey? Hold your horses. Come on (INAUDIBLE) away. And besides, I want to do it.

Sometimes you just got to honk your own horn because if you don't nobody is going to know you're coming.

Go get them animals. Go get it.

I envision a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest.

Howdy, boys.


KING: We're back with Dolly Parton. We're looking forward to seeing "Joyful Noise" where she costars with Queen Latifah. Why so long between movies? You know you had such a hit. We'll talk about "9 to 5" in a while. Why didn't you get more films?

PARTON: Well, I don't really get a lot of good scripts. And I get a lot of junk come across my desk and, you know, into our offices. But I really am looking for something good. And when this one came along, it just seemed to be so perfect because I think the writer wrote it for her and for me specifically and that's why, you know, we were really ready to go pretty soon after we both read the script and said, yes, we love it. Yes, we love each other. Yes, we'd love to do it.

So it was just one of those things. I usually wait for things to come. I don't try to beat my brains out over it. I want to do things that's close enough to my personality to where I can carry it off. And I get a lot of stuff that I just don't think I'm a good enough actress to do it or it's just junk and I don't want to do it.

So I've been lucky with the movies that I have done and this one hopefully will be one of most fun ones.

KING: Do you duet with Queen Latifah a lot?

PARTON: Well, actually, we do sing in the choir of and on together. But yes, we have one duet song that I wrote. And it actually is the front of the movie. So we do get to kind of banter back and forth and kind of sing against each other and kind of get our frustrations and our joys and our fun out, you know, toward each other. So our voices blend really well and I'm very excited about that.

KING: Your most famous film which will live forever in film lore is "9 to 5". Did you think that would be the hit it became?

PARTON: No. Well, you never know what's going to be a hit.

KING: Of course.

PARTON: It's just like when you write songs. You hope they're all going to be a hit and think they're going to be great, but I did not know what that one would be. That was as you know the very first movie I had ever done. I had never even seen a movie made at that time or been around that.

So that was kind of like a first love. It will always be the most special I'm sure as far as that goes. But it was a wonderful thing and I've worked that "9 to 5" job for 30 years now. That came out 30 years ago and of course I got to write music for a Broadway musical of it and now we're on the road. The road tour started in September in Nashville. So now it's going to be all around the country. So it's just still kicking along there.

KING: I remember right before the musical opened, it -- it played five months. You got mixed reviews. Have you changed a little for the touring company? PARTON: Well, actually, we -- the music's all the same. My songs stayed the same. Luckily, the music got good reviews and I guess it -- like you say, it got mixed reviews in different areas. But we -- it's not as high tech as it was on Broadway.

The road show of course, you can't travel with all that equipment. And I don't know if you actually saw the Broadway show or not.

KING: I didn't.

PARTON: There was a lot of high tech stuff. But we've kind of narrowed it down to where it's really more sensible and it fits the road more and it's more like office stuff. So it's different. We still have a wonderful cast, great singers. So I'm very proud of it and I enjoyed, you know, being on Broadway, seeing that come, you know, to fruition.

And I'm just glad to -- you know, to just have it still going. I don't know how long it will go. It's kind of like the Energizer bunny. It just keeps on going.


KING: Did it -- does it sting you when you get a poor review?

PARTON: Well, it always hurts you when you don't get the -- you know, the good reviews but you try to learn from it. I learned years ago if you have fall under that and just blame the critics or the person criticizing you, you're never going to learn and grow from that.

So I've learned through the years to look and see what they say and to see if there is truth in it. And usually there is some truth. Sometimes they overdo it. They don't have to be so honest. But anyway, I just try to learn from that and apply, you know, what I've learned from it to whatever the next project may be.

Of course we want everything to be a hit but that's just not how it goes, is it?

KING: All right. Queen Latifah, she came to fame in the hip-hop world. Do you relate to that kind of music?

PARTON: Well, I have to be honest with you. I don't really have a lot of time to relate to any kind of music, even my own, because I'm so busy writing stuff and working on my own things and of course country music and gospel music is my favorite.

But I appreciate all kinds of music. And every age has its own style of music. Every generation. And you know I think it -- some of it is fun. I just don't know that much about it. But I have a feeling I may get hip-hopped a lot now that I'm working with her. She may -- I may learn to love it. Who knows?

(LAUGHTER) KING: "Joyful Noise," that's about a gospel choir as you said.


KING: You were inducted into the Country Gospel Hall of Fame earlier this year, elected into the Gospel Music Association's Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 2009. And you said your music has been almost like a ministry. Can you explain that?

PARTON: Well, I'm saying my work itself is like -- almost like my ministry. You know it's like -- I feel like that you're out there trying to help people feel better about themselves, trying to give them some hope. And even when things are the hardest I try to write songs to lift people up.

That's one reason I think that this "Joyful Noise" is going to be wonderful. Queen Latifah and I -- or Dana is her real name. We've talked a lot about how this is a great opportunity to make people feel better about themselves. And she grew up with a religious background. I think her people were -- a lot of them very church people and worked in the choirs and some deaconess -- somebody in her family she was joking about.

So she grew up in the church with gospel music also. So I grew up that way and I've always recorded, you know, songs -- you know that are of a more spiritual nature. So I really -- or at least some uplifting qualities or try to.

So hopefully this is going to be a wonderful thing. And yes, I'm honored to be part of the hall of fame. We have the Southern Gospel Hall of Fame housed at Dollywood and we're very proud of that.

KING: And we'll be back with more of Dolly Parton when we return.


KING: We're back with Dolly Parton, winner of this year's coveted Applause Award.

By the way, when will we see "Joyful Noise"?

PARTON: Well, we're hoping that it will come out either by -- at the very end of next year 2011 or early in the 2012. So we're -- you know they're hopeful that they might get it done in 2011 but we're not sure about that and I probably shouldn't be taking liberties to talk about when it's going to be released but we're hoping it might come out next year. If not, it will be soon after that.

KING: All right. Aren't -- your grandfather, as I understand, was a Pentecostal preacher. Did he have any feelings -- poor feelings about you going into show business?

PARTON: Well, early on, my grandpa, as you know, the Pentecostal Church -- you may or may not know, they're pretty strict on how you dress -- KING: I know.

PARTON: -- and how you wear your hair and wearing makeup. And so I think early on I was pretty open-minded myself about myself. And I was always, you know, having all the makeup. And I think my grandpa and a lot of my family worried a little bit at the start thinking maybe I was going to hell in a hand basket.

But it's like everything else. As soon as I started getting famous and people seemed to love me and I seemed to be touching people -- my grandpa was one of the first to say how proud he was of me, especially after a wrote a song about him called "Daddy was An Old- Time Preacher Man."

So he would always just -- my grandpa would just go downtown and just -- you know, just tap people on the shoulder. He'd say, you know that song "Daddy was An Old-Time Preacher Man"? Well, that's about me. So anyhow, he kind of came around --

KING: Yes, that'll change you.

PARTON: You know, after he saw that I was OK. Yes. But he was proud of me.

KING: You have said that you are Miley Cyrus's fairy godmother and you were recently on her Disney show "Hannah Montana." She has been criticized recently for wearing risque outfits and raunchy dancing. You want to comment on that?

PARTON: Well, I don't want to say a whole lot about that. Hopefully she didn't get that from me because I certainly never encouraged her to do any of that. But I think Miley is special. I think she's very talented. I think she's just in a cross -- she's just kind of in a crosswinds trying to overcome the Hannah Montana little girl, and trying to become a young woman.

And I think she's just -- you know I don't know if she's surrounded by people that are helping, you know, not make the wise decisions but I know that she's going to be fine or I certainly hope so. I never try to give people advice. I never wanted people giving me advice.

I wanted information and I wanted to be left alone to do my own thing. So I'm hoping that Miley is going to be just fine. I know she's very gifted and I love her dearly and if she ever needs me I'll do everything I can to help her in any way that I can. So I think we should just let her grow up.

KING: Do you think your business is tougher on young girls?

PARTON: Yes. I think it is. I think this day and time life is hard for young people, certainly young girls. I think we -- things just scare me to death anymore. I'm just so glad I don't have children now because I think that it would just be really hard to know how to direct them, to know what to say, because the world is just -- you just can't flaunt enough. You can't just do enough. You can't just talk trashy enough or dress trashy enough. It seems to be like if you don't do that you're not in the in crowd. So I think that there's a lot of pressure just on young people in general and I think they put a lot of pressure on themselves as well trying to compete or thinking that they're supposed to be like the stars on TV.

And I worry that a lot of kids are not really finding their own core, their own selves. They're own identity. They're trying to be like somebody else. So I don't worry about that for my nieces and nephews and just for young people in general.

KING: Our guest is the incredible Dolly Parton who got the Applause Award, number attraction in America. That's Dollywood in its -- entering its 26th year up there at Tennessee.

We'll be right back.


KING: Back in 1978 Dolly Parton was Country Music Association's Entertainer of the Year. She was also a pop crossover artist at the time becoming a major, major hit. Last year at age 21, Taylor Swift became the youngest ever to be named Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association. She also won Female Vocalist, Album of the Year, Video of the Year.

What do you make of her?

PARTON: I say, yay, Taylor Swift. I think she is a smart, beautiful girl. I think she's making all the right moves. She's got a good head on her shoulders. She's surrounded with wonderful people. Her songs are great. She keeps herself anchored. She knows who she is and she's living and standing by that.

And I just admire her. I think she is just incredible and a great role model for young people right now.

KING: You think there's a danger, Dolly, in too much too soon?

PARTON: In too much consumed you say?

KING: No, too much -- getting too much attention. Too much awards too soon --

PARTON: Oh, getting much too soon.

KING: Yes.

PARTON: Well, it's just sort of like when they talk about "American Idol," you know, they say, well, you know, they show up and then they're gone before it happens. And there is a danger in all of that.

But with Taylor, I honestly think that she's got the qualities that could last a long time. I think she's got a good head on her shoulders. And I don't know if there's such a thing as having too much too soon. I mean if it's your time, it's your time. You shouldn't deny somebody, you know, what they can have.

So I'm hoping that she's just having a really, really hot streak that's just going to last. I hope her 15 minutes of fame lasts for 40 years, and it very well might.

KING: What keeps country music keeping on? I think it's still the most popular idiom form in America.

PARTON: Well, I think country music is popular -- has been popular and will always be popular because I think a lot of real people singing about a lot of real stuff about real people. And it's simple enough for people to understand it. And we kind of roll with the punches.

I believe there will always be that traditional country that I grew up with, the Kitty Wells and the Hank Williams. I think there will always be those kind of people and the people that love, you know, the mountain and bluegrass.

And I think it's great, though, that folks like Taylor Smith -- Smith -- Taylor Swift can come along and actually take it into other areas and do whatever, you know, they can with it.

And Brad Paisley and all those wonderful people, Keith Urban. They really have a good country core with all those great country instruments -- banjos, fiddles and mandolins. And so I think it's great that it's a flexible -- it's a flexible music.

KING: Do you think the lyric are harder to write? Do you think people like Cole Porter and Irving Berlin could have written country?

PARTON: Well, I think a lot of the Cole Porter songs and Irving Berlin, I think those songs -- they're not that different from country music as far as what they're saying. They are simple stories, simple truths about love or feelings and thoughts.

But I think it's just the difference in instrumentation and then how you perform it or how you sing it. But a good song is a good song. Doesn't matter who wrote it. You can take an Irving Berlin song and add bluegrass. I even did "I Get a Kick Out of You" years ago --

KING: Cole Porter.

PARTON: I bluegrassed it up and a lot of -- yes, the Cole Porter song. And people got a lot of -- you know got a kick out of me singing "I Get a Kick Out of You."

KING: I get a kick out of you, Dolly. How do you -- you write so many songs. How do you get inspired?

PARTON: Well, everything inspires me. You inspire me, which by the way I'm so happy that I got to be on your show. We're both celebrating our 25th anniversaries. But I love -- you know I love being around people. I love hearing what smart people like you have to say.

I watch you interview other people. Sometimes people will say a line or say something and I think wow, that will be a good idea for a song. So I just -- you know I just pick up things from just day-to- day living and it's just easy for me to write about it.

KING: All right. Do you like hearing -- do you like it when other people are singing your songs?

PARTON: Yes, I do. A lot of -- a lot of singers or a lot of songwriters I've heard say, I hated how they did my song. They have it in their head a certain way. But I'm just happy for anybody to do one of my songs however they want to do it because I'm curious to see all the different ways that people can do a song.

Just like when Whitney did my simple song --

KING: Yes.

PARTON: -- of "I Will Always Love You" and look what she did. It was mighty. David Foster did this spectacular arrangement on that. And I just thought, wow, is that my little song?

And I just think it's amazing. So I'm thrilled even when there's songs recorded of mine that don't do as well or some say, I hated that version of your song. I like them because I'm honored and flattered that people want to do them.

KING: Damn right.

We'll be right back with more of this year's Applause Award winner, Dolly Parton. Don't go away.


KING: Dolly Parton on her new CD, by the way, duets with the great Norah Jones.

You've sung together before at the CMA awards. What make it -- what makes a duet work and why sometimes does it not work when we have two really good artists?

PARTON: Well, that's a very good question. I've been very successful with duet partners like with Porter Wagner when I started with him, the man that actually helped me get started big time in country music. And then Kenny Rogers, our voices just blend and our personalities mesh.

But I have sung songs with other people and it's not like that. And Norah Jones, I love her. Our voices really did work. So it's really hard to say. You just never know. People just kind of have -- Kenny Rogers and me just -- we might as well be married. People just think we're supposed to be together all the time.

So it's just a matter of I think the personalities and the tones and the qualities in a voice with my little thin high voice and Kenny's rich quality, it seemed to work. It was the same with Porter. And when I sang with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt, that's a beautiful blend.

But it's just -- you just never know until you kind of luck up on it one day with a great duet partner.

KING: Did you want to be on the Sinatra duets album? They should have put you on that.

PARTON: Nobody asked me to be on it.

KING: That would have been fun.

PARTON: So -- well, I don't know. I guess they thought maybe too country or maybe they didn't have a spot for me. But that would have been -- I guess it would have depended on who I sang with.

KING: Yes. All right. Your last --

PARTON: I did do a -- I'm sorry.

KING: Go ahead. Go ahead.

PARTON: I was going to say I did do a duet with Rod Stewart on one of those classic old songs that "Baby, It's Cold Outside." I did that a few years back. That was a fun thing to do with him.

KING: I love that song.

PARTON: Somebody else could have done it better but nobody would have enjoyed it more than I did.


KING: Tour last album was in 2008, "Backwoods Barbie." What's next?

PARTON: Well, I'm glad you asked. I have a brand new CD that I'm working on now that will also be on my label, Dolly Records. And it's going to come out in early summer. I haven't got a title just yet but I'm writing all the songs for that.

Then I'm going to be going on tour in late July and early August. I'm going to be in the United States. Then we're going to be going to Europe and to Australia in fall and winter. So we're still kind of working on the scheduling. And any new information anybody wants to know follow along and keep up to date just contact us at

And we'll have all the information on all the stuff we're doing. So I'm looking forward to a new CD and a new tour.

KING: Dolly Parton has a tremendous following in the gay community. We'll ask her why right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: We're back with the great Dolly Parton. What do you think it is your tie-in with the gay community?

PARTON: Well, I have a lot of gay fans, female and male. And I think I've been at this so long a lot of people feel like they've grown up with me. As you know, I've always been outspoken, I've always been pretty outrageous, I always believe that a person should be who they are.

And you should be comfortable being who you are and people should leave you alone to be who you are in how you are. So I think I've always been accepted in the gay community because I accept them. And I have so many fans that always love to come to the shows and they know that I'm not judging them.

I think people are who they are and I'm not God, I'm not a judge, we're supposed to love each other exactly for who and what we are.

KING: Why do you think there is hostility toward gays? Why are gays bullied?

PARTON: Well, I'm not sure about all of the reasons that people act the way they do about other people. I just think we need to dig down a little deeper and try to be a little kinder to one another and accept one another for -- you know, for who we are.

I mean, you can't tell me that people are any way other than what they're supposed to be. I don't think gay people are trying to just be different just to make other people miserable. I think people are being who they are and I think they are -- they should be who they are.

And I think we should be a little more tolerant, a little more accepting and understanding of not just the gays but other people. Minorities. We just don't have enough love to really -- to live in this world.

KING: But --

PARTON: We really need to. And that's one of -- one of the songs that I wrote for the "Joyful Noise" musical. It's called "Not Enough Love," and -- or it's called "Not Enough." And that's the duet that I sang with Queen Latifah, and we really enjoyed singing it. It's like -- it's just saying, you know, why can't we be more accepting and loving and tolerant?

KING: But -- didn't you grow up where you grew up around segregation?

PARTON: Yes. Actually, and I didn't know -- we didn't know any blacks or Hispanics or any of those people growing up. I grew up way back in the mountains. The first black person I ever saw was when I went to high school at Severe County High School when I started in 1960.

And the first black people we knew -- there were about four black students in our school. And there was a girl in our class and her name was Parton. So they used to kid me all the time. They were saying, is this your sister? I said, well, yes, she is. And so it was like -- so we had -- I was the Parton there and right next to me in our yearbook is like the other Parton, and she's black and white. I thought, well, that'd a God smile right there.

And then like when I was working with Queen Latifah, her name is Dana Owens, and my mother's maiden name is Owens, too. And so I said there, I said look, my first black friend was a Parton and now my next black friend or close friend, if we get to be that close, is an Owens. So I said we are sisters. We're all sisters and brothers anyway.

So I thought that was just a cute -- yes.

KING: Speaking of -- speaking of sisters and brothers, you were one of 12 children but you never had children of your own. Ever regret that?

PARTON: No. This day and time, I regret it even less. I used to think I wanted children but I don't have children now. But I tell you, looking at the way this world is now, it's like I'm almost glad I don't. It's -- I worry enough about my brothers and sisters and their children, and my little nieces and nephews, and just other people's children.

I just, you know, hope that they all -- you know do great. And so I make a perfect aunt. I get a chance to keep them, take them to -- you know, to Dollywood. They love that. Or take them -- take them to one of our Dixie Stampede Dinner Theaters, which I forgot to mention.

We've got a new pirate theme at one of our Dixie Stampedes in Myrtle Beach this next year, and I got to write all the music for that, and I can't wait to take -- you know, the kids to go see all that. So I make a better aunt than I would have a mother, I think.

KING: And we'll be back with our remaining moments with Dolly Parton right after this.


KING: Couple of moments left with Dolly Parton.

Your husband Carl Dean stays in the background. Is that by his design?

PARTON: Oh, absolutely. My husband loves staying home. He does not want to be in the limelight. He's proud of me. He wants me to do anything I want to do that makes me happy as long as I just don't hit on him.

I did make him go see "9 to 5" when the show came to Nashville. He wouldn't go to Broadway but I did just kind of grab him and say, you're going with me. Actually, he went to the dress rehearsal. He wouldn't go, you know, with the whole crowd there. So he doesn't like to be in the limelight but he's a great guy. We've been married for 42 years now, I guess, so -- a long time.

KING: And what got you so -- what got you so involved -- you give time and money to the cause of literacy.

PARTON: The -- we're so proud of our Imagination Library. That's where we give books to children. Started in my home county where we give a book to children from the time they're born, once a month, until they start kindergarten. It was such a big hit that the Governor Phil Bredesen in Tennessee -- in Nashville, he took over and we just turned the whole thing into bigger and better, then we were all over Tennessee, now we're all over the United States, in Canada and in England.

So we just love working with the kids and I think God knew I probably shouldn't have kids of my own so everybody's kids could be mine and I could help in all the ways that I can. So that makes me feel real good, and it was based on the fact that a lot of my own relatives didn't get a chance to get an education.

So that whole thing worked out really well. And so I -- it's something I take a lot of pride in.

KING: Did you have a book affect you in childhood?

PARTON: Did I ever what?

KING: A book.

PARTON: I'm sorry.

KING: You ever have a book had an impact on you?

PARTON: Oh, yes. Actually the book that had the most impact on me is the book that we give out, the very first book, in the Imagination Library. It's that wonderful little book that everybody knows called "The Little Engine That Could." And I like to look at myself and think I am a little engine that did.

I think we all can if we think we can, and if we get out there and do it. So that's a wonderful little book and a wonderful little message.

KING: Dolly, congratulations on the Applause Award and everything else, on the tour, new album and the movie. Keep on keeping on, Dolly.

PARTON: Well, I will, and congratulations to you. We're going to miss the tar out of you. So I'll see you somewhere else, though.

KING: Down the road.

PARTON: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Thanks, Dolly.


KING: Dolly Parton.

PARTON: Thank you.

KING: Jack Hannah and the animals are here tomorrow night. What a Thanksgiving eve show. My little boy Canon is featured. Don't miss it.

Time now for "AC 360."