Dollyisms: 26 Quotes and Quips From Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton—who turns 71 years old today—is a prolific songwriter, performer, and businesswoman. She’s been nominated for 46 Grammys (and won eight) and has sold over 100 million albums. But over the years, Dolly has become famous for not just her music but also her clever one-liners, self-deprecating jokes, and encouraging advice, all told with her trademark smile and good-natured giggle.

“Everything’s high-tech and I’ve just been dragged screaming and kicking into the 21st century. But I try to surround myself with folks that keep up with it. It’s completely different now, but it’s wonderful that I’m still here. I say that I’m as old as yesterday, but hopefully as new as tomorrow.”

— From a 2014 interview with Today Show

“The kids peed on me every night … There were so many of us. We slept three and four in the bed. I would wash every night, and as soon as I go to bed, the kids would wet on me and I’d have to get up in the morning and do the same thing … That was the only warm thing we knew in the winter time. That was almost a pleasure to get peed on because it was so cold. Lord. It was as cold in the room as it was outside. We’d bundle up to go to bed.”

— From a 1978 interview with Playboy


“I like all that frilly stuff. Like I’ve always said, it’s a good thing I was a girl, or I’d definitely have been a drag queen! Most definitely.”

— From a 1999 interview on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno

“It’s really a totally different look for me … I loved the movie and I enjoyed doing it, but I couldn’t wait to get out of those little suits and get into my trashy stuff.”

— From a 1992 interview on Live with Regis & Kathie Lee

“I have a guilt complex about being the one that’s so successful when so many of them [other performers] are so much more talented than me. And so many friends that I know in Nashville that have twice the talent that I’ve had, that I’ve seen them come and go through the years and never see their dream come true.”

— From a 2012 interview with NPR

“I stay gone. [Laughs] … He’s a good guy; we know each other so well. I know every line in his face, and he knows every hair in my wig.”

— From a 2014 interview with Today Show

Circa 1977. Jay Phagan via Flickr // CC BY 2.0

“Now the night I graduated from Sevier County High School, back in 1964, we were all asked to stand up and talk about what we were going to do with the rest of our lives. And everybody had a different story. And when it came my time I stood right up there. I said I’m going to Nashville and I’m going to be a star. Well the whole place laughed out loud. And I was so embarrassed, cause I thought, ‘How odd. Why is everybody laughing? ‘Cause that is what I’m going to do.’ But as bad as I felt at that moment and as embarrassed as I was, it did not shake me from my dreams. So I guess I showed them, huh?”

— From her 2009 University of Tennessee, Knoxville commencement speech

“I just depend on a lot of prayer and meditation. I believe that without God I am nobody, but that with God, I can do anything.”

— From a 1980 interview with Roger Ebert

“I really wish that y’all could have seen the look on my lawyer’s face 24 years ago when I told him I wanted to start a theme park and call it Dollywood. He thought I’d already taken the train to Crazywood.”

— From her 2009 University of Tennessee, Knoxville commencement speech

“No, I have too much hair! And too much other stuff going on. I can’t stand that in my ear. I figure I’ll be wearing hearing aids soon enough.”

— From a 2003 interview on Oprah


“It’s certainly a choice. I don’t like to be like everybody else. I’ve often made the statement that I’d never stoop so low as to be fashionable. That’s the easiest thing in the world to do.”

— From a 1977 interview with Barbara Walters


“Now people are always asking me, What do you want people to say about you 100 years from now?’ I always say I want them to say ‘Dang, don’t she still look good for her age’.”

— From her 2009 University of Tennessee, Knoxville commencement speech

“I’m proud of my hillbilly, white trash background. To me that keeps you humble; that keeps you good. And it doesn’t matter how hard you try to outrun it—if that’s who you are, that’s who you are. It’ll show up once in a while.”

— From a 2014 interview with Southern Living

“I grew up in a family of 12 children and six of those kids were boys. I was very close to my dad, and my uncles and my grandpas, and my brothers, so I relate to men. I understand the nature of men. I always say that I look like a woman, but I think like a man, or I can think like a man.”

— From a 2014 interview with Bust


“I never felt I belonged. Never belonged in my whole life, even as a little kid. I was just different and so I never really found my place till I moved to Nashville and got in the music business. That was my real place, so I fit in.”

— From a 1977 interview with Rolling Stone

“I don’t know, I’ve got better things to do than count them. But I wear one every day of the week, so probably 365.”

— From a 1984 interview with Interview Magazine (conducted by Andy Warhol)

“I never let a rhinestone go unturned!”

—From a 2015 tweet by Dolly Parton

“I’m a very sensitive person. I’m a songwriter, so I have to live with my feelings on my sleeve. I have to not harden my heart, because I want to stay open to feel things. So when I hurt, I hurt all over. And when I cry, I cry real hard. And when I’m mad, I’m mad all over. I’m just a person; I like to experience whatever the feeling is and whatever I’m going through.”

— From a 2014 interview with Southern Living

“It don’t bother me so much unless people dwell on it. Get tacky and all. It’s part of the act. If someone gets really carried away, well, I sort of pity him. Cause it’s his problem, not mine. Other than that, I’m a good sport. I know some of the best Dolly Parton jokes. I made ’em up myself.”

— From a 1980 interview with Roger Ebert


“People say that the reason I wear sleeves is because I have snakes tattooed all over [my arms]. I say ‘No, I don’t!’ I do have a few little tattoos, but they were mostly done to cover scars because I’m so fair.”

— From a 2014 interview with Today Show

“Hmmmm. I dunno. Maybe if Sissy Spacek made enough money off of playin’ Loretta Lynn, she could get herself a boob job.”

— From a 1980 interview with Roger Ebert

“Uhhhhh … I couldn’t pick one. I’d have to pick three.”

— From a 2014 interview with Southern Living


“It’s therapy. It’s fun. It’s creative. I love getting on a big writing binge and staying up a couple days working on a song and knowing at the end of those two or three days that I’ve created something that was never in the world before. It’s like a feeling of creating, not that the same stories ain’t been told before, but it ain’t been told through my point of view. And it’s my way of relaxing. Songwriting is a hobby and to me it’s therapy. It’s a joy. It’s a thrill. It’s like mind exercises or something.”

— From a 1990 interview with American Songwriter

Timothy Wildey via Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

“I don’t know! Am I livin’? Am I a legend? You never know how people are going to look at you till you’re older and you look back at your life. So far I’ve been very pleased that, you know, my life has turned out the way it has, and I don’t take it for granted. I owe a lot of credit to God and folks for helping me along the way, so I didn’t do this all by myself.”

— From a 2015 interview with Mashable

“I’m always flattered that anybody would record my songs, even if they change them. Certain ones of my songs, I’ll hear somebody do it and I’ve had mixed emotions. I think either ‘Wow, that’s great. I never thought of hearing it like that’ or I’ll think ‘Oh Lord, they’ve ruined that song.’ But you’re still glad as a writer that they did it, no matter how it turns out. You’re just glad that somebody liked your song enough to record it. But you do have your favorites. I guess the ones I’d like to record my songs right now are the ones having hits and make me the most money.”

— From a 1990 interview with American Songwriter

“It costs a lot of money to look this cheap!”

— An oft-used quote, as in this Vanity Fair article

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