Everybody loves Dolly Parton, and there was certainly plenty of love in the room during the performances that resulted in Live From London, a two-disc CD/DVD set recorded at the 02 Arena. Backstage interviews and other action are captured on the DVD, but the real magic comes from Parton’s music and her connection to the audience.
“It was so open and the lighting was so great and the audience looked so good and … we had a wonderful stage, so it was one of those things where everything just feels right, and you just know it and you just go with it,” Parton said during a recent interview with CMT Insider’s Katie Cook. “The crowds were so responsive, and we just loved it.”
The discs feature hits such as “Jolene” and “Two Doors Down,” along with newer material, including “Backwoods Barbie” and “Only Dreamin’.” In the interview, Parton talks about the work involved in planning a concert tour and her family’s holiday tradition.
How do you approach your live shows? You could play for days if you played all of your hits, so how do you decide which songs make the cut?
Parton: We go through that every time we put our show together. First of all, you have to do your very biggest songs. … You do those, and then you try to choose songs that keep the show flowing. … You try to do it where it keeps the show moving and where you leave spaces for where you want your humor and where you want to stop and talk to the audience. So there’s a lot more to it than people realize. It’s work when you start putting it together. Of course, once you get it done, it’s done — and then it just flows like water.
When the audience starts singing along like they do on the DVD, does it sound like one big voice, or can you hear a few clunkers and think, “You’re throwing me off. You need to hush up”?
(laughs) Well, on a song like “I Will Always Love You” and “9 to 5,” those are pretty straight-ahead things, and it really sounded beautiful to me. They know that song so well, and when you start into the “I will always love you,” they just kinda go with it, and it sounded really good. In fact, it was very touching when I first heard that many people singing that, and they weren’t miked all the way. It’s just that big sound, and the acoustics were good, as well. But it was very touching. Same thing with “9 to 5” when they just knew every word. I thought they sang good. In fact, I put the microphone out a lot at different times just so I could hear them because I thought, “Wow, these people can sing.”
Of course, the live DVD will be out for Christmas. I’m sure it will be on a lot of people’s Christmas lists.
It’s a good one. It wraps up really good. It’s lightweight, but it’s good, and it’s got the DVD and the CD inside with all that information, so it’s it really makes a nice gift, as well.
And you don’t mind squeezing it into a stocking?
No, it’s good. It will fit right in a big ol’ sock.
How does Dolly do Christmas?
Oh, different ways. I love Christmas. In fact, my house is already decorated for Christmas.
Is it really?
Yeah, and usually I decorate after the day after Thanksgiving for Christmas. But I think I’m gonna be out of town a lot during the holidays, so I thought, “I want to have my Christmas lights and stuff put in now.” So I’m enjoying that. But I do like everybody else and try to visit as many friends and family as I can. We cook and we eat and sometimes we go out to restaurants or go to different people’s houses, and so it’s just fun. I love giving presents, and I love getting them.
I picture your Christmas tree being huge and sparkly.
Always gaudy, but it’s good.