Sunday, July 19, 2015


“‘Coat of Many Colors’ builds to a declaration—‘One is only poor only if they choose to be’—that upon first listening seems more than a little naïve. After all, the choices Dolly Parton had in whether or not she would grow up poor in the East Tennessee hills numbered exactly zero. But then, that’s not what she’s saying. In the very next line, she concedes that ‘we had no money,’ 
so she’s clearly not denying her poverty. Rather, she’s claiming that her poverty need not define her. . . .” David Cantwell’s perceptive essay goes on to say “. . . ‘Coat of Many Colors’ is not a documentary or even a memory, but a story [Dolly’s] telling herself. How the adult Parton presents this childhood story says a lot about the survival tactics of poor kids generally, and of Dolly specifically. . . . I refuse, Parton insists as she wanders back through the years, to believe a story about myself in which poor is all I am. . . .”

8.  Coat of Many Colors • Dolly Parton • 1971

The Dolly Parton album Coat of Many Colors is the obvious place to go for “Coat of Many Colors.”

You can read the full “Coat of Many Colors” entry on David Cantwell’s Living in Stereo blog.

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