Dolly Parton Reveals Her Songwriting Secrets

via Dolly Parton / Youtube

Dolly Parton, the legendary country music icon, recently graced the music scene with her first-ever rock album, “Rockstar,” released on November 17. While the expansive 30-track collection primarily features covers of classic tunes, Parton has also woven her songwriting magic into several original songs on the record.

Parton spilled the beans on her songwriting process during a visit to SiriusXM’s The Howard Stern Show this week, sharing insights into a craft she has mastered over the years, contributing classics like “Jolene,” “9 to 5,” and “I Will Always Love You.”

The 77-year-old artist revealed her favorite time to write is early in the day when she’s applying her makeup.

“When I sit down to do my makeup … I’ve got the table there, I’ve got my makeup laying around, and I’ve got my notepad there, and my little tape recorder,” she explained. “Somehow, just when I’m looking at myself, putting on makeup … my mind is working … my hands are working, and somehow there’s just something about that time of the morning, and when I’m doing that, that I get some of my best ideas.”

Emphasizing the importance of capturing ideas as they come, she stressed the need for a tape recorder.

“[I]f I get a melody, that’s the same as like words. If you don’t write it down, you’re gonna forget it,” she warned. “You’ll think you’ll remember it, but you won’t. Sometimes I’ll dream a song, and I learned years ago, if you don’t wake up and write that down, you will not remember that.”


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Parton shared that jotting down ideas on whatever is handy is a common practice among serious songwriters.

“I think all writers do that, serious songwriters,” she maintained. “We’ll write on a tablecloth, we’ll write on a napkin, on a Kleenex box, whatever … is handy. And I’ll use a Maybelline pencil, anything I get my hands on, ’cause I know if I don’t do it right then, I will forget it, and then I’ll want to kill myself later to think, ‘What was that great idea? I know it was great!’”

In her wisdom, Parton added,

“So you just learn. That’s part of your trade. Don’t take anything for granted. If this is your job, you do it and you do it good.”

As fans delve into the musical journey of “Rockstar,” they not only enjoy the collaboration with an impressive roster of famous singers and musicians but also gain a glimpse into the meticulous and creative process of the timeless Dolly Parton. “Rockstar” is now available in various formats and configurations, inviting listeners to experience the magic behind the makeup mirror.