Dolly Parton – How The 68-Year-Old Country Icon Brought All Of Glastonbury Together

Few people have ever united the rag-tag assortment of people who assemble each year at Worthy Farm in quite the same way as Dolly Parton. Ever since Emily Eavis announced that the peroxide-haired country icon would be playing the coveted Sunday afternoon slot this year (a gig previously played by Shirley Bassey and James Brown, to name a few), it’s been one of the festival’s biggest talking points. Glastonbury on-site newspaper newspaper The Glastonbury Free Press’s front page splash said it all with the headline ‘GOOD GOLLY IT’S DOLLY’, accompanied by the strapline “The headline we’ve waited 44 years to write”. Elsewhere onsite, anticipation for the set was palpable – in the VIP area, the water fountain had been marked with a joke sign ‘Reserved for Dolly Parton’, while a video put online earlier this month taught punters how to do the dance moves to ‘Jolene’ for a Dolly Flash Mob. But how was the set? Here are the five things Dolly taught us.


She united the whole festival

It’s a rare and beautiful thing to be able to pack out the Pyramid Stage, but when Dolly Parton came onstage it felt as though the entire festival had gathered for the spectacle. From the bleary-eyed up-all-nighters stumbling down from the Stone Circle, hip 20 somethings from the Park Stage, to the politicos in the Left Field, she brought a magical sense of unity to Worthy Farm.

She wrote a song especially for the occasion

When I interviewed Dolly earlier, she told me that when she drove on site at 5am this morning, she looked out of the window to see the muddy fields, presumably littered with the debris (human and otherwise) from the night before. It inspired her to write a track especially for the occasion – the eruditely titled ‘Mud’, featuring the chorus ‘Mud, mud, mud” which the crowd sang with gusto.

The security guards were trained to dance for her

Dolly’s arrival got the usually impenetrable security staff at the front of the Pyramid Stage dancing, with the 30 blue-uniformed staff breaking into the ‘Dolly Mob’ dance for ‘Jolene’. According to NME’s photographer who was chatting to staff in the photo pit, the guards had been learning the dance for weeks.


She wore the best outfit of the whole festival

Dolly’s rhinestone cowgirl stage garb was easily the outfit of the weekend. A white, crystal-encrusted catsuit compete with some sort of silver crotch chain that put every fox, clown, Princess Leia, drag bride and panda bear I’d seen all weekend to shame. She even beat the bloke who wandered past the NME bus on Thursday dressed as a lifesize vagina in the costume stakes.

She really is the Dolly Llama

The nickname given to Dolly for her knack at offering sagely vignettes and life-affirming pearls of wisdom whenever the opportunity presents itself, really is earned. Who else could successfully drop a “can I get an amen” with rapturous reply into a lengthly speech about God, peace, love, the 60s and Bon Jovi to a crowd of 80,000 hungover reprobates on the Sunday after the heaviest night of the year. Amen indeed.