November 24, 2012

Just Because Dolly Parton Is A Woman...


For work this week I took a long road trip through the mountains, so there was lousy radio reception, except of course for the right-wing redneck talk radio which always manages to find me.

As I have done this route before, I pulled CDs from the basement to toss in my bag; I decided to take stuff I hadn't listened to in ages, so Streisand, Fleetwood Mac, Pink's early stuff... and I pulled out the Dolly Parton tribute album Just Because I'm A Woman.

I am a Dolly fan because she is talented and joyful and big-hearted and witty and fabulously  fake... but I don't know her music that well, beyond the staples like 9 to 5 and Jolene.

This album changed all that. It has talented female artists covering Dolly's songs, and it is amazing.

Just Because I'm a Woman: Songs of Dolly Parton is a various-artists tribute album to Parton released in 2003. It is named after a song Parton wrote and recorded in 1968; she re-recorded the song for this album.

The album has 13 tracks, and there really isn't a weak link among them. Performers include Melissa Etheridge (a rougher, smoky I Will Always Love You), Joan Osborne, Norah Jones, Emmylou Harris, and a surprisingly effective Shania Twain, in a duet with Allison Krauss on Coat Of Many Colors.

The best tracks are Allison Krauss's slowed-down bluegrass 9 to 5, Me'Shell N'Degeocello's funky take on Two Doors Down, and especially Sinead O'Connor's Dagger Through The Heart, a steely heartbreak song I was not familiar with but which I cannot get out of my head. Breathtaking.

The best thing about the album is the songs themselves; they show the talent and range of Parton as a songwriter. It is a great listen for Parton fans and newbies alike... find it.