The country-music icon released her rock-inspired album 'Rockstar' on Friday
It’s official: Dolly Parton is a certified rock star.
On Friday, the country music legend, 77, dropped her highly anticipated, rock-inspired album Rockstar, which she released in part because she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The expansive 30-track project is full of both originals and covers of rock classics, including a stand-out rendition of Prince’s “Purple Rain.”
Although many of the other covers see the Grammy winner linking up with collaborators or even joining the original artist for an updated version of their song, Parton chose to honor the Purple One by singing “Purple Rain” solo.
The “Jolene” singer stays true to the original, while emphasizing its gospellic elements by adding a backing chorus to transform it even more so into an ethereal rock hymn.
A shredding country-rock guitar and the commanding tone of pop icon’s Tennessee twang carry Parton’s updated version of the iconic power ballad off the late music legend’s hit 1984 album. As soon as the choir comes in at about two minutes, and especially as the song bursts into a stunning arrangement of harmonies and ‘70s-esque guitar solos, Parton takes fans straight up to rock Heaven.
“I only want to see you bathing in the purple rain,” the pop icon emotionally repeats, as if she’s calling out to the late rock star himself.
Many fans have already taken to social media to shout-out “Purple Rain” as their favorite cover on Rockstar. “Dolly Parton singing Purple Rain is honestly transcendent,” one X user posted on the platform (formerly known as Twitter).
Meanwhile, another fan said the track brought them to tears. “Dolly Parton's version of Purple Rain is breathtaking. I cry every time I listen to it,” they wrote on X. “Thank you, @DollyParton, for this beautiful tribute to Prince.”
The song, which comes in at just under eight minutes, is among several rock epics on the new release (out on Butterfly Records and Big Machine). The “9 to 5” singer also teamed up with Lizzo and her flute — known among fans and featured as Sasha Flute — for an mystical-sounding, nearly-eight-minute cover of Led Zeppelin's “Stairway to Heaven.” Then to close out the project, she and Lynyrd Skynyrd jam out on their classic “Free Bird.”
Many other A-listers make an appearance throughout the project. Fellow legends like Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr join her on “Let It Be,” she teams up with Elton John on “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts make an appearance on “I Hate Myself for Loving You.” There’s even a handful of contemporary names, including Miley Cyrus, who joined her godmother on a duet of “Wrecking Ball” and Pink and Brandi Carlile, who offered their own flare on The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”
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"I'm gonna have to live up to it if I'm gonna be in the Hall of Fame," she said at the time, "so I'm gonna go ahead and do a rock 'n' roll album, and I'm gonna pull people from the rock 'n' roll field to sing with me on it. … I'm gonna actually pull on some of the greats and do a lot of the great rock songs."
She also explained that she planned on making Rockstar with her husband Carl Thomas Dean in mind. "I'm doing the rock 'n' roll album because of him," she added. "I had often thought about doing a rock 'n' roll album for him with his favorite songs. And so when this all came about, I decided that I am gonna go ahead and do it. … It was just the perfect storm. OK, it's time."
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