WEEKEND Beach Bum
|by Eric Morrison
|Dolly Parton for President!
I have always been a fan of Dolly Parton, and an album of hers has convinced me that she must be elected the next President of the United States of America. It's not simply the fact that she strutted her sultry stuff in a fabulous star-spangled outfit in a recent music video. At 59 years young, Dolly boasts a booming body, radiant skin, and big wigs to make this drag queen drool with envy, but there's much more to Dolly than meets the eye. She is one of the most gifted and prolific songwriters and musical producers of our time, a beautiful singer, a talented actress, and even a theme park hostess. Beyond these credentials, she also strikes me as a wonderful human beingcaring, compassionate, and full of light underneath all those shining sequins and false eyelashes.
So why this call of "Dolly Parton for President?" It's largely about her 2002 album Halos & Horns. I picked up the album a couple of years ago but never really got around to giving it a good listen until recently. I bought the album to check out her rendition of "Stairway to Heaven." I thought the song might be good for the drag stage, but after I saw it was almost seven minutes long, I scrapped that idea, although the song is stunning. Halos & Horns marked a return to Dolly's country and bluegrass roots, and many critics touted the album as her best in years. The album includes standard country sob songs with lines like, "I thought I saw the promise of forever in your eyes," and a hilarious break-up track that declares, "You can tell the truth or you can lie. You can say I left you or I died."
But some of the song's lyrics are profound enough to make me think that Dolly has a much tighter grip on reality and a much bigger heart than our current President. One song on the album, Hello, God, tugs mightily at my heartstrings each time I hear it. In the song, Dolly bemoans the mess we've made of the world. She offers a heartfelt plea to a God who may or may not exist: "I have questioned your existence. My resistance leaves me cold." She hints at the current chaotic state of many parts of the world and reminds us that the messy bed in which we lie is one of our own making. She sings to God, "The free will you have given, we have made a mockery of," and given today's world, her lyrics could not be more timely and poignant.
One line in the song reminds me of the ongoing conflict between the Western world and many areas of the Middle Eastin particular, the war with Iraq. She cries out to God, "We fight and kill each other, in your name, defending you. Do you love some more than others? We're so lost and confused." I couldn't help but picture a God sitting in the sky, raining tears down upon us as our leaders support the killing of innocents over oil, money, cultural and religious differences, and specious foreign intelligence reports. Well over 20,000 Iraqi civilians have died during our invasion and occupation of the nation, more than seven times the number of American civilians who died on September 11, 2001, but you don't hear about them on CNN. Regarding Iraqi civilian casualties, General Tommy Franks said, "We don't do body counts." Don't these people matter? Why don't we care about those people? The only difference I see between them and us is their religion, culture, skin color, and the amount of oil under their feet. I've drawn my own conclusions.
The self-reflective "Shattered Image" reminds me of conservative attacks on the GLBT community. In this great song, Dolly declares:
"If you live in a glass house, don't throw stones.
Don't shatter my image 'til you look at your own.
Look at your reflection in your house of glass.
Don't open my closet if your own's full of trash.
Stay out of my closet if your own's full of trash."
I say, "Amen, Dolly!" The leader of our people will not support millions of GLBT Americans because we are not like him. Meanwhile, he possesses a dubious military service record, a horrible track record in business, an arrest record, a history of alcohol abuse, likely cocaine use, and twin daughters in the news more for their party lifestyles than their upstanding characters or good grades. Not to mention the fact that W sailed into office twice on contested election results and now has the second-lowest approval rating of any second-term President in American history. Thankfully, though, W and his conservative cronies have been ordained by God to lead this great land, so they must know how to strengthen and maintain the country and its people, even if some of those people are not fit to marry or serve in the military and lack the most basic job, housing, and civil rights protections. Despite the fact that I'm gay, my closet is pretty clean, George. How about yours?
Dolly speaks freely about gay people and often compares herself to drag queens. She hasn't started any wars to my knowledge. And she seems to possess a depth of character and human understanding sorely lacking in our current leaders. So how about Parton for President! We had a Dolly in the White House before and she was pretty popular. Why not give it another shot, with a wonderful woman as the head honcho this time, not just throwing dinner parties and smiling demurely for the camera. I'm sure Dolly would keep "abreast" on current events and maybe even throw a big country picnic for world leaders. If you're still not convinced, imagine the image overhaul for Americaan Oval Office decked out in sequin wallpaper and a world leader with the backbone to wear stilettos. It may seem like a long shot, but as our current elected officials demonstrate, stranger things have happened. C'mon, Dolly! Throw your straw hat in the Presidential ring for 2008! Win or lose, Dolly, I will always love you.
As Dolly's campaign manager, Eric is accepting endorsements and donations at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 15, No. 9 July 15, 2005