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Dolly Parton’s Songteller: Part songbook, part potted history and part balm for the soul | Books | Entertainment


Dolly Parton, with Robert K Oermann

Hodder & Stoughton, £35

Songteller is part annotated songbook, part potted history and part balm for the soul, with Dolly Parton’s personality shining out of every page.

The songs are very much the star of the show. Below the lyrics of each one, Dolly tells us how it came to be and what inspired it.

She’s rightfully proud of her songwriting skills and casually mentions that she wrote mega-hits Jolene and I Will Always Love You on the same day.

She’s less forthcoming about her personal life but she still shares fascinating nuggets, especially when it comes to her upbringing in Tennessee.

Dolly has earned the right to sing about hard times, having grown up as one of 12 children (one baby died in infancy) in a wooden shack so cold that drinking water froze overnight.

She also pays a touching tribute to her father, but any mentions of the darker topics that have inspired her music – suicide, addiction, abuse – tend to be somewhat vague.

The book is packed with photos, serving as a who’s who of country music as well as a timeline of Dolly’s exuberant hair and wardrobe.

There are also rare snaps of her publicity-shy husband.

Although you can’t help but wish for a full life story, this is still a lovely peek behind the rhinestone curtain of a true talent.

  • To order any of the books featured, please phone the express bookshop on 01872562310 or order online at www.expressbookshop.co.uk



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