Dolly Parton released her full-fledged rock and roll album Rockstar in November, to much fanfare and critical acclaim, and it actually became the highest charting album of her illustrious career.
The record debuted at #3 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart, where she came in third only to Taylor Swift and Drake with 1989 (Taylor’s Version) and For All the Dogs, respectively.
Needles to say, it was a big hit, but there’s one person who wasn’t completely sold on the whole idea, and that would be Dolly’s husband of 56 years, the aforementioned Carl Dean.
He was a big inspiration behind Dolly wanting to do this project, in addition to her wanting to “earn her place” in the rock hall, though he wasn’t so convinced she could pull it off.
Carl is apparently a massive rock and roll fan, and “Stairway to Heaven” is one of his favorite songs, and he cautioned his wife that she should probably leave that one on the cutting room floor back when she first did a bluegrass rendition for her 2002 Halos & Horns album.
Dolly says he told her that version was more like “Stairwell to Hell”:
“He always loved the ‘Stairway to Heaven.’ He loved Led Zeppelin. And years ago, I did ‘Stairway to Heaven’ as a bluegrass, a gospel thing.
And Carl, I played it to him, and he said, ‘I think that’s a little more like ‘Stairwell to Hell’ than ‘Stairway to Heaven!’’ He didn’t think that anybody should do ‘Stairway to Heaven’ but Led Zeppelin.
‘Who’s gonna have the nerve to do that?’ And I thought, ‘Well, I’m going to have the nerve.'”
She always does, but damn Carl…
Honestly, though, it seems like they have a really honest relationship, and I’m sure it’s nice for Dolly to have people around her that will tell her the truth about how they feel.
Now obviously, that doesn’t mean she’s gonna (or should) listen, but over 20 years from that first cover, Carl warned her once again about including that song.
He was worried Dolly would get a lot of criticism, though she had something prove, and in the end, she got the Carl seal of approval this time around:
“He was kind of concerned about me doing it. He said, ‘I don’t know if you need to mess with that, because I think you’ll get a lot of criticism. People don’t want other people messing around with that song.’
But I did it anyhow. I wanted, more than anything, for Carl to know that I could do that too. So I decided to be true to its form.
And I have to add that Carl said: ‘You know, that’s pretty good.’ That’s really something coming from him!”
The version she did for Rockstar is intentionally much more similar to Led Zeppelin’s original, and also features Lizzo and Sasha Flute (which is the stage name of, yes, Lizzo’s flute that she plays which also has its own Instagram page).
Anywho, check out Dolly’s cover for yourself if you haven’t already… I think you’re gonna enjoy it as much as Carl did this go around:
Her bluegrass version is pretty damn cool, too (no matter what Carl says):