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A Little Happier: A Happy Story from the Life of Dolly Parton.


As I’ve mentioned, I’ve become obsessed with the life of Dolly Parton. What a life! Perhaps surprisingly, I’m not that interested in her music—though there are a few songs I love, like Jolene -- but in her decisions and her personality.

There’s a story I love, from the life of Dolly Parton. There’s really no point to this story, other than it makes me happy, and I hope it will make you happy.

It’s about the album Trio, which Dolly Parton made with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. It was released in 1987, though they’d had the idea for it many years before. Here’s Dolly Parton describing the idea for that album, in an interview with Oprah Winfrey.

You can watch it here, at about 13:23-14:30.

So these three had to wait about a decade before they were able to make the album the way they wanted to make it. But they did it, and the album Trio was a gigantic hit, and they went on to do follow-up albums.

As luck would have it, way back in 1976, around the time they’d first come up with the idea, Dolly Parton had her own variety series on TV, and she had Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt as guests, so there are clips of the three of them singing together in that way.

Here they are singing, with acoustic guitar and a piano their only accompaniment, singing a verse of “The Sweetest Gift.”

It’s so interesting to see them, so young and so casual, just sitting on stools, not even sitting up straight! Their music is so beautiful, so effortless.

It makes me very happy to think of these three great artists taking such delight in their own powers—sitting around Emmylou Harris’s living room and striking up a song, as one does--and persisting in their vision for years, until they finally got to do what they wanted. And then it was a big hit.

A happy story.

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