Dolly Parton Talks 'Pure & Simple': 'This Particular Album Is Almost Like a Garage Band'

Dolly Parton performs in 2015
Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images

Dolly Parton performs during Dolly Parton Pure & Simple Tour at Mann Center For Performing Arts on June 15, 2016 in Philadelphia.

Country music legend Dolly Parton will release her 43rd studio album, Pure & Simple, on Aug. 19, a joint venture between her label Dolly Records and RCA Nashville, distributed worldwide by Sony. Her last studio album was 2014’s Blue Smoke.

The renowned songwriter produced Pure & Simple herself, writing the songs in what she calls her “little old bitty booth” at her publishing company.

“’Pure & Simple’ is probably gonna be a single,” Parton said in Toronto during a recent press conference. “There’s another one they’re talking about shipping out as a single to hopefully get it played on the radio called ‘Standing Outside Your Door’; it’s a fun little romantic thing.”

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Featuring 10 songs, the prolific writer said, “I always do so many more songs than we need and it’s always so hard to have to leave them off the album.” However, some of the songs, such as  “Tomorrow Is Forever” and “Say Forever You’ll Be Mine,” were recorded and released in the 70s with Porter Wagoner.

Parton, 70, named it Pure & Simple because her current 60-plus date North American tour is a stripped-down configuration with the singer playing up to nine of the instruments herself, including the saxophone.

“I thought I’d call this tour Pure & Simple because we really broke it down. I don’t have a whole big band onstage. It’s just four of us onstage. And we don’t have a whole bunch of bells and whistles and overdone production, which I’ve done a lot of that through the years. I thought, ‘Well I’m just going to tame it down, save a little money.' As I always joke, I need the money because it costs a lot to look so cheap, and there’s some truth in that, more than you know. So anyway, we decided to call this route Pure & Simple.

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“Also, this is the year that I’ve been married 50 years to my husband [Carl Dean] and we just got remarried […] after all that time, so I wrote all the songs that are in the Pure & Simple album -- and they’re all love songs. They’re all love of different colors so I’m real proud of the album. So that’s why we did it and how we did it and, hopefully, people are going to enjoy it.”

Parton, who says she made her most money from Whitney Houston’s 1992 cover of “I Will Always Love You” for The Bodyguard soundtrack, realizes that radio has moved toward newer, more contemporary country artists. She doesn’t seem to mind. Throughout her illustrious career, sales of her singles, albums, hits collections, paid digital downloads and compilation usage have surpassed 100 million records worldwide, according to the Sony press release.

“I still love to write. It’s easy for me because that’s what I do and once I get a focus, if I think, ‘Well, what kind of theme is this going to be?’ then one song just leads to another. And you think, ‘Oh, that’s a good one, maybe I’ll write about this subject, true love, then cheatin’ love, then romantic love, sexy love.' So anyway, this is an album, it’s love of many colors, let’s put it that way.”

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Asked by one reporter if she would ever consider working with someone like Jack White who produced Loretta Lynn, she said, “I’m one of those people, I don’t do it for commercial reasons. I just write what I write and I sing what I sing and I just get in and do it. At this point in my life I’d probably have more success if I would work with other important people, but my songs are just so personal.

“This particular album is almost like a garage band. I have a little old bitty booth that I have just set up at my publishing company just for songs I write; I just go in and do my little demos and that was how this all started. I had written a couple of things and I went in to put them down with Richard Dennison and Tom Rutledge. Tom was working the little engineering board and Richard was helping out with the stuff and all of a sudden it got sounding so good, I thought, ‘I’m just gonna continue with this…

“If I’m looking for big hit records, I’d probably go looking for a big producer, but for now I like doing what I’m doing and I’m happy and content with that. And my true fans accept that.”

Pure & Simple track listing:

  1. Pure and Simple
  2. Say Forever You'll Be Mine
  3. Never Not Love You
  4. Kiss It (And Make It All Better)
  5. Can't Be That Wrong
  6. Outside Your Door
  7. Tomorrow Is Forever
  8. I'm Sixteen
  9. Head Over High Heels
  10. Forever Love