6 Things Dolly Parton Taught Us About Love

When one of the most beloved performers and enduring cultural icons OF ALL TIME is willing to impart precious nuggets of wisdom (and also French fry-related bon mots), you listen. Herein, what we learned from Dolly herself

With a staggering 43 studio albums and 50 years of marriage under her belt, Dolly Parton could teach us a thing or two about love and longevity. And the talented treasure of a woman spins yarns about all kinds of love on her latest album, Pure and Simple—from no-strings-attached romances to the fairytale, happily-ever-after version of wedded bliss. We caught her on the phone in Nashville, where she’s already performing shows on her North American tour, to chat about loving everything from performing to potato chips.

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On the different types of love
“I’m talking about all kinds of love on this album. There’s lots about true love, but there’s also cheating love, friends-with-benefits love. Of course a lot of it comes from me and my life, and my experiences, but some of it is from stories, people I’m close to. “I’m Sixteen” is one of my very favourites on the album. It’s based on my sister, who was divorced and thought she’d never be in love again, but then she found someone, and they started acting just like teenagers! Like they were 16. I think love keeps you young.”

On loving your look
“I think everybody should dress according to what you think your best features are, how you want to feel about what you’re wearing. Because I think if you’re comfortable in your own self, in your own clothes, and your own skin, then other people will be comfortable around you. I had patterned my look after a very trashy looking woman in my hometown, but I thought she was beautiful, and I thought, ‘That’s the way I want to look.’ I’ve always been comfortable with that. Always be comfortable: it doesn’t matter if it’s fashionable or not, because it’s fashionable to be real. Even if you look false, you can be real.”

On loving yourself
“My mantra is, ‘Brace yourself and pace yourself.'”

On loving potatoes
“When I’m on tour, I have to stay on a low-carb diet, because I’m a big eater, and when you’re eating low carbs you can actually eat a lot more. I have to fit into my stage clothes. But most days off, I’m a big junk food person. Potatoes are my weakness. Every diet I ever fell off of was because of a potato in one form or another. I’ll eat a bag of potato chips, I’ll eat a baked potato, I’ll eat French fries. I’ve always got to have my starches.”

On true love (and making it last)
“I didn’t mean to, but a whole load of the songs on Pure and Simple have the word “forever” in [them]. “Say Forever You’ll Be Mine,” “Tomorrow Is Forever,” “Forever Love.” I truly do believe that some love can be forever. I’ve been married 50 years, and I’m a hopeless romantic myself. I don’t mind talking about my marriage, but I keep my private life private because Carl [Dean, Dolly’s husband] didn’t choose the public life, I did. And he reminds me of that every now and again [laughs]. But it’s nice to have some things that are just for us.”

On loving your work
“I really can’t tell you how much I love to do [what I do]. I wanna do this forever. And I recognize my age, so I think, ‘Well, I ain’t got as much time as I used to have, so I’ve got to make the most of every single thing.’ I’ll never retire; I hope to drop dead right in the middle of a song, or on stage, one of these days. I love it even more because time is precious, and I’ve accomplished so much, and I don’t ever want to take that for granted.”

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