Dolly Parton pulls the curtain back on some of the realities of working in the music business in the new thriller novel, Run, Rose, Run, which the 76-year-old legendary singer-songwriter penned with author James Patterson.
The book — titled Run, Rose, Run — is out now, and follows a young singer named AnnieLee, who chases her dreams to Nashville and befriends a retired country singer named Ruthanna, who offers the younger singer-songwriter career advice.
“It shows a lot of the dark side of [the music industry], that people who have been in it, like me, you know that, ’cause you’ve lived it,” Parton said in an interview alongside Patterson on CBS Sunday Morning, offering examples of the things she’s seen during her decades in the business. “The managers, people who will try to rip you off, try to steal your songs, they’ll con you … I have seen it all.”
Parton, who is also known for her roles in movies such as 9 to 5, hopes to portray the character of Ruthanna in a film project based on Run, Rose, Run.
“I’m hoping to get to play that character when we do a movie of the book, which we hope to do, at some point,” Parton said.
The collaboration between Parton and Patterson began in 2019. Patterson, who earned his master’s degree from Nashville’s Vanderbilt University, visited Parton in Nashville to pitch the iconic singer-songwriter on the idea of working together. The two instantly clicked. Patterson and Parton said if they had not had that instant connection, the book would not have happened.
“We didn’t have to do it,” Parton said during the CBS Sunday Morning interview. “I don’t make that many friends, and a lot of my old friends have gone on. And I’ve got some friends, you don’t always trust them after you get famous and you don’t know who is your friend and who is not.”
Ever the songwriter, Parton quickly began crafting music to along with the book.
“A couple of days after I got [to Nashville], she sent me the lyrics to seven songs,” Patterson recalled.
“He would send me pages and I would get ideas for the songs and I just did it,” Parton added.
Parton ultimately wrote a dozen songs that became a companion album to Run, Rose, Run and released on March 4. Parton will sing one of the songs from that project, “Big Dreams and Faded Jeans,” on the Academy of Country Music Awards March 7. The country star will also host the ACM Awards (alongside co-hosts Jimmie Allen and Gabby Barrett), which airs via livestream on Amazon Prime Video on Monday night.
Parton previously told Billboard how she relates to the dreams and ambitions the character AnnieLee holds, as evidenced by a line in “Big Dreams and Faded Jeans”: “My desire is always greater than my fear.”
“I just know what I want and I just weigh how bad I want it and how much I’m willing to sacrifice for it,” Parton said at the time. “I have said that line different times in my lifetime and so I when I was writing the song, it just seemed to fall right in that little spot. So it was kind of one of those Dollyisms, as they say. And so it just worked so well in the song. The Annie Lee character in the book, she’s kind of like that. She’s kind of afraid, but she’s still just going to go do it because it’s got to get done. And that’s how I feel about anything I do. Even if you are scared, what’s the worst that can happen? You just try again some other time. But that’s a good line and I think it’s a good lesson, too.”
Watch Parton’s CBS Sunday Morning interview below: