“I don’t know how pure I am, but I know I’m pretty simple,” Dolly Parton quipped at Monday’s press event announcing her two-disc LP, Pure & Simple, which is due this summer. Comprised of a set of newly penned Parton tunes, the release will also include a disc called Dolly’s Biggest Hits, which Parton teased by noting, “I said ‘hits.’ I’ll have to be careful when I say that but it really is called that.”
The bonus album compiles some of the country icon’s best-loved chart-toppers and will presumably include such favorites as “9 to 5” and “I will Always Love You,” although no official track listing has been announced yet. ‘Pure & Simple’ is also the name of the tireless entertainer’s upcoming North American tour, which will take the singer-songwriter to more than 60 cities throughout the U.S. and Canada this summer. The trek’s title, Parton says, is a nod to the show’s stripped-down approach.
“We don’t have a lot of electric instruments,” she explained of the concerts, which will introduce songs from the new LP and also offer her the opportunity to include in the set-list several tunes that haven’t been played live for decades. “We don’t have a lot of video; we don’t have any, really. In the bigger places where we play we’ll have to have some video cameras, where you’ll see me – because I’m so little. But actually, I’m doing a lot of songs really scaled-down. . . but, of course, I do a lot of talkin’. What else would I do, right?”
Parton points to last summer’s pair of performances at the Ryman Auditorium, which were mounted under the “Pure and Simple” banner, focused on many of her best-loved story songs, including “Coat of Many Colors,” and “Jolene,” and were accompanied by her candid, down-home recollections about the true-life events that inspired them. Last December, the former became the basis of the made-for-TV movie starring Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles as the singer’s mother. A ratings blockbuster for NBC, the film, which was the first of a four-picture deal Parton signed with the network, bows on DVD May 3. Noting that the home-video release, which will include several deleted scenes and special features, is timed to coincide with Mother’s Day, Parton also revealed that at that time she will be digitally releasing a new track from the Pure & Simple album titled “Mama.”
Parton also noted that although the faith-based aspects of the Coat of Many Colors film were well-received by the viewing public (so much so that a Christmas-themed sequel is being considered), she has no plans to rewrite her personal history surrounding the “trashy” bank employee her husband had a crush on in order to make the Jolene film more palatable. “Maybe she can become a Christian later,” Parton joked of the character. “I’m a girl of many colors. My songs are my songs and my stories are my stories. There’ll certainly be some redeeming qualities in it, but it’s not going to be like the Coat of Many Colors [film].” Parton also announced that her spiritual 1975 tune “The Seeker” is being made into a film and could potentially become a faith-oriented TV series reminiscent of Highway to Heaven or Touched By an Angel.
Also on the horizon for this spring are the 31st season of Parton’s Dollywood theme park at the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, and a newly opened dinner theater in the area. Parton and her husband Carl Dean are currently preparing to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in May with a special ceremony during which the couple will renew their vows.
Specific dates and locations for the Pure & Simple tour are expected to be released soon, along with the double-LP track listing.