I love Dolly, but that was theater

SB and I just got back from seeing Dolly Parton live in Edmunds.  While Dolly is arguably one of the greatest American songwriters, an amazing and expressive singer, and an all around appealing person, I can’t help but feel somewhat insulted by the theatrical nature of her show.  And by theatrical, I mean it was more of an acting performance than a live music performance.  SB and I agreed that the majority if not the entire show was lip synched.  This alone was not completely irritating just because she was so damn good at it – it was amazing to watch.  At times I just stared at her instead of her giant blown up face on the video screens and she was actually so good that I could forget she wasn’t singing live. 

What was more irritating was her fake playing of instruments.  She pretended to play piano on several songs, guitar on many songs, and even a zither on "Coat of Many Colors".  It was obvious that her fingernails were so long and her movements were so exaggerated and not quite synched up to the music that she was not actually playing.  I’m torn as to what to think of this – it’s a contradiction in her persona to be glamorous (having nails that prevent her from playing) and a true musician (leaving all the playing up to the boys would have been untrue to her abilities).  Or that her persona is so fake that she feels she has to be perfect like Barbie and to sing live or imperfectly would have been disappointing.  She has this whole act about how her personality is a caricature and that she doesn’t take herself so seriously but takes her art seriously.  I guess I felt that this bled into not taking her art seriously.

I know that 95% of the people in the audience didn’t realize she was faking it and maybe she was just performing for those people.  But the 5% of us who really wanted to see her sing live were disappointed. 

But for the record: IIIII  wi-hill alllllways love yoooouuuuuu, Dolly!


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