Dolly Parton brought one of the biggest crowds of the weekend to Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage for her late afternoon set earlier today (June 29) – and even penned a special song for the occasion about the Worthy Farm mud.
The country music singer came onstage shortly after 4.20pm to rapturous applause from the full capacity crowd, which had spread to every part of the main stage area.
Strutting onstage in a white sparkly suit, she kicked off with ‘Baby I’m Burning’, before going straight into ‘Why’d You Come In Here Lookin’ Like That’. “Well, it is such an honour and such a privilege to be here,” she said. “I’ve been waiting a lifetime for this, Glastonbury.”
The first big moment of the set came with ‘Jolene’, as Parton grabbed a white guitar and the crowd sang along with the 1973 hit. “Thanks for singing along with me! I heard you out there,” she giggled. The song, she said, was a true story written to inspire her fans that, “Something good can come from anything. If that Jolene hadn’t been around I never would have written that song… or made all that money!”
She then introduced a new song, the title track from her forthcoming new album ‘Blue Smoke’, and was joined onstage by a fiddle player. Despite the song being new, she got the audience clapping along.
“My songs are pretty simple and I write a lot of them,” she said, telling the audience about her childhood on a farm in Tennessee. “I grew up in the country so this mud ain’t nothing new to me.”
After a story about her mother, she then picked up an Autoharp as she introduced her track ‘Coat Of Many Colors’, which she dedicated to all the “mamas” in the audience.
“Of course you couldn’t live in the countryside without playing a banjo,” she laughed, as a roadie handed her a guitar. She then told a story about her grandfather, who was a preacher, who she said worried about her when she was a teenager.
“It was hard to find a boyfriend up there in the mountains. They were all related to you!” she said, adding that she has found her perfect partner – husband Carl Thomas Dean, who she married in 1966 – but that she still loves the mountains she grew up in, which she wrote ‘Rocky Top’ about. Sauntering out to the front of the stage, she performed a fiddle solo before bringing out her “little sucker” of a saxophone, on which she played the theme tune to The Benny Hill Show as the audience cheered. “Well that turned out better than I thought it would,” she said.
“I got something for you,” she then said. “I wrote you a song. Before I got here they told us that you were famous for the mud. When we arrived at 5am this morning I looked down and saw these people and they were knee deep in the mud and I thought, ‘Well, I’ll write a song about it’.” The song, which saw Parton rapping, received a good reception from the crowd, who sang its chorus “mud, mud, mud” with gusto.
A tender rendition of folk classic ‘Banks Of The Ohio’ ensued, and then a medley of tracks requested by fans, which included ‘Old Flames Can’t Hold A Candle To You’, ‘But You Know I Love You’, ‘Real Love’ – which saw her backing singer take on Kenny Rogers’ part, and finally ‘Think About Love’.
“Here’s one that was my first biggest selling record,” she said by way of introduction to ‘Here You Come Again’. Party song ‘Two Doors Down’ followed, which led into a greatest hits finale of ‘Islands In The Stream’ and ‘9 To 5’.
“Thank you Glastonbury!” she screamed, bowing and exiting the stage as the band continued playing. She then returned to the stage to begin a motivational story about looking to “the Lord” for advice, which inspired her to call up Bon Jovi to ask them if they would rework their track ‘Lay Your Hands On Me’ for her to sing. It was at that point she introduced special guest, Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora.
An emotional finale came when she dedicated her biggest hit ‘I Will Always Love You’ to each member of the audience who, she said, she wanted to know that she will “always love you”.
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