Dolly Parton may now be enshrined in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t feel a little guilty about it. Ahead of the ceremony in November, the country icon experienced a whirlwind of emotions over her induction, which went ahead, despite her encouraging voters to look elsewhere.
“I still had this feeling that I was taking votes from someone that had spent… I would take any country things they give me because I’d feel I’d earned any of them that I get,” Parton says in a special holiday episode of Proud Radio with Hunter Kelly on Apple Music that debuts Sunday.
“I just felt like I was kind of betraying somebody else,” Parton continues. “But then they explained it to me, and they said I was getting it anyway. So I thought, ‘Well, I’m going to accept it graciously.’”
Parton also claims to have written a song for the Rock Hall that she’ll perform one day and is laying the groundwork for a proper rock & roll album.
“I’m going to go all the way,” she says. “Like I say, if I’m going to be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, I’m going to earn it.”
Despite her misgivings, Parton’s fondness for outsiders and willingness to question power structures have plenty in common with rock & roll attitudes. She and Kelly take a few minutes to unpack deeper themes of labor inequality in her classic “9 to 5,” which she penned for the 1980 film of the same name.
“We’ve come a long way, but there’s going to always be a long ways to go for women are still fighting for their rights, for equal pay, for equal work and all that,” she says. “So I think it’s still relevant and people still love it.”
Kelly, an occasional RS contributor, points out that it’s also the kind of song that makes LGBTQ+ people feel empowered to fight for their rights.
“Well, you got to take care of yourself,” Parton agrees. “You’ve got to stand up for what you believe in. And it’s easier when you got other people helping you, backing you and trying to help you say that.”
Parton also discussed her friendship with fellow country great Willie Nelson, whom she met long ago as a songwriter in producer/Monument Records founder Fred Foster’s offices. In 2020, Parton recorded a version of Nelson’s “Pretty Paper” for her Holly Dolly Christmas album and he added a vocal part from afar. They reprised the song together in person for Parton’s new Mountain Magic Christmas special, now on Peacock, and found themselves reflecting on loss and the passage of time.
“He came in his bus, stayed in his bus for the two days he was there, filming the thing,” she says. “We talked about all of our friends from the past that we had lost and that we knew, and talked about, “Ah, we’re old enough to be out of here, but here we are. We’re still doing our thing.”
Parton’s episode of Proud Radio with Hunter Kelly debuts in full on Sunday, Dec. 4 at 5 p.m. ET or anytime on-demand at apple.co/_ProudRadio on Apple Music Country. Kelly also hosted the eight-episode 2022 Apple Music series Neon Songbook Radio about the work and lives of Naomi and Wynonna Judd.