Dolly Parton Reveals Songs She Wishes She’d Written

17 November 2023 | 1:42 pm | Mary Varvaris

"I think that's one of the best songs that’s been out in the last 25 years or so, if not ever."

Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton (Credit: Vijat Mohindra/Courtesy of Butterfly Records)

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Dolly Parton is the kind of artist anyone in music would want to collaborate with. Sweet, effervescent, and one of the finest songwriters of any generation, she’s just shared her first venture into rock and roll territory with her new album, Rockstar.

The new album features an abundance of collaborators, including Richie Sambora (former Bon Jovi guitarist), Steve Perry of Journey fame, Rob Halford from Judas Priest, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s John Fogerty, Heart’s Anne Wilson, Stevie Nicks, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, Debbie Harry, Elton John, Melissa Etheridge, Lizzo and many more.

On Rockstar, Parton covers some of the most well-known rock songs of all time, as well as some pop-rock numbers and some new songs she wrote specifically for the album. So, it makes sense that the album would feature some songs she wishes she wrote.

The fourth track on the album is Open Arms, a song initially written and recorded by Journey in 1982—vocalist Steve Perry also guest stars. “Steve Perry is singing with me on it, and he's the one that had the original on that years ago – it was a big hit,” Parton said in a recent cover story interview with The Music.

“My husband [Carl Dean] always loved it and always thought I should have recorded it with Kenny Rogers, but I never got a chance to do that. So, when I started doing the rock album, I thought, well, I'm going to record Open Arms, and then I’m going to ask Steve Perry to sing it with me. I wish I had written it.”

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Another song Parton wishes she wrote features on the Rockstar tracklist: Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus. “The way she sang it was just incredible,” Parton said. “I think that's one of the best songs that’s been out in the last 25 years or so, if not ever.

“Anyway, Miley and I love each other very much. We like singing together, and I think we sing really good together. When I started do the rock album, [I said], ‘Well, I have to have Miley, and I love Wrecking Ball, so why don't we just do Wrecking Ball?’ And, so, we did, and it turned out really good.”

During the interview, Parton also told The Music that the Australian artist she’d love to collaborate with is Keith Urban – born in New Zealand but raised in Caboolture, Queensland. “Although he’s over here with us now, I think our voices are just beautiful together,” she said.

In 2005, the pair worked together on Dolly’s song, The Twelfth Of Never, from her album Those Were The Days. “I did a song with him years and years and years ago. So, I'd still love to someday do a great song with Keith – a great duet – I think our voices would be perfect together. But I'm sure any number of them [Australian singers] would make great duet partners.”

Rockstar is out now via Dolly Parton’s Butterfly Records and Big Machine Records.