Dolly Parton | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Dolly Parton 

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It's the early 60s. Imagine a Dylan-type who isn't a product of the New York coffeehouse circuit but instead grew up in the east Tennessee mountains, where children are sung to sleep with ancient Scottish border ballads, songs that folkies like Dylan could only find in songbooks. Imagine that this person goes straight into a highly commercial studio setting. Imagine, too, that this person is a woman who turns her circumstances into a new kind of musical persona compounded of haunting modal hill music; a wry, very tough, very soulful woman's response to modern life; rural nostalgia; exploded rural nostalgia; humor; and sensuality. Imagine these pieces held together by an acute pop sensibility. You'd have one of the legends of the 60s, right? A folkrock icon, Joni Mitchell with soul? Nope, you'd have Dolly Parton. She's strayed pretty far from that early achievement, but to see Dolly is still to dig a uniquely American spectacle. Glitz, glamour, and shtick--a sacramental celebration of "making it"--and somewhere still the reedy wailing voice of immemorial fatalism, sighing underneath it all like a ghost at a wedding feast. Sunday, 7 PM, Rosemont Horizon, 6920 Mannheim, Rosemont; 635-6600 or 559-1212.

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