CMT Insider Interview: Dolly Parton

Country Superstar Talks About "Backwoods Barbie," Cornbread Muffins and Taylor Swift

Next time you have breakfast at Cracker Barrel, keep an eye out for Dolly Parton. She’s re-releasing her latest album, Backwoods Barbie, through the restaurant chain later this month, adding a few new tracks for dessert. And now that she’s back from her second European tour, she’s polishing up the Broadway production of 9 to 5: The Musical. You have to wonder just how many cups of ambition she has been pouring lately.

In this interview with CMT Insider host Dolly Parton, the vivacious country star shares her fondness for Frederick’s of Hollywood, cornbread muffins and two musically gifted teenagers — Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus.

CMT Insider: What can you tell us about the video shoot for the song, “Backwoods Barbie” ?

Parton: I can tell you everything about it! It was so much fun. We did it in Los Angeles. Trey Fanjoy directed it, and she has great ideas. She had the idea of taking me to California so I can walk up and down Hollywood Boulevard. We even pass the Frederick’s of Hollywood store because I do mention that in the song. … We spent the morning out on an old ranch where we did the country parts with the girl that plays me in the video — the younger Dolly playing in the makeup and all. Then we spent the night of the shoot just walkin’ up and down the streets like a town trollop.

Did you do any shopping in Frederick’s?

I did as a matter of fact, because when we would do the song, we’d wind up at the end of the street every time and they’d have to reset the cameras. So at the end of the scene, I would go into Frederick’s. They were so nice to let us use the store, and it’s just a holding tank. I found everything in the world in there. I love Frederick’s anyway. I’ve been shopping from there for years.

There’s a collector’s edition of Backwoods Barbie that going to be available at Cracker Barrel, right?

Yes, in all Cracker Barrel stores all around the United States. It’s going to be in stores the 23rd of March, and it’s called the Collector’s Edition, and it’s the Backwoods Barbie CD with all new artwork and different pictures. But there are three new songs, never heard before, that I’ve written that I thought would really fit well with the people that go into Cracker Barrel. Some real sweet and country things, some real heart-felt and fun stuff. There’s one called “Hallelujah Holiday” about being on vacation. One called “Rose In My Heart.” It’s about true love. And another one called “Berry Pie,” about how a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. What better ways than Cracker Barrel to do that?

If you were sitting at a Cracker Barrel right now, what would you order?

I love their cornbread muffins. … My husband loves the coleslaw, so we always have a big bowl of coleslaw at the house all the time. … All my friends love to go have breakfast. Everything I’ve ever had from Cracker Barrel has been good, though.

When you’re working on a major project like the Broadway version of 9 to 5, obviously you have to communicate a lot with people. What is your preferred form of communication? Do you prefer the telephone, faxing or e-mail?

I prefer the telephone. If I can’t be there in person, I prefer the telephone first, second for fax, because I’m one of those old timers. But everybody in my office now, they’re so up to date with everything. Everybody’s e-mailing this and that. I don’t e-mail. I just call in what I want to do, and they can send it out however they want to. (laughs)

Another very talented young lady is Taylor Swift. Everyone’s talking about her right now. And like you, she’s really a prolific songwriter at a young age.

She is. I have been extremely impressed with her, especially with her songwriting. I think she does magnificent work. She seems such a likeable little person, but I don’t know her. But I love watching her. My husband gets a kick out of her. He just loves watching her. He thinks she’s great. But I’m real impressed with the depth of her sometimes. I’ll tell you someone else that’s great like that — little Miley Cyrus. Miley is such a great songwriter — a lot of surprises about her that people don’t know yet. She’s still just Hannah Montana to a lot of people, but I think that she could have a very big career as a singer-songwriter even when she gets past the Hannah Montana days.

When you’re touring in Europe, do you get a chance to relax or do any sightseeing?

Oh, yeah. We always try to make it a point to get out and sightsee because you look at it like a paid vacation. I’m not the kind of person, if I had a vacation, that would spend that kind of money and go that far away. I would more likely want to spend a vacation more around home. But when you go overseas like that, we always have days off and we always book tours. Different ones in the band go different places. But we always go to see the points of interest. That’d be crazy not to do that. We try to eat all the food in the area that they’re famous for, go to all the special places. We had a wonderful tour. We were over there twice. We were over there [in 2007], then about a year and a-half later, we were back, so we’ve really made the most of it.

Can you go anywhere over there and not get recognized?

No, but why would I want to do that?