While I don’t have the statistics to prove this, I’m going to say it anyways: Everyone loves Dolly Parton. The New York Times says so. She’s one American icon that we can all agree on. Even if you don’t like her music (but, c’mon, she wrote “I Will Always Love You”!), how can you not appreciate the woman behind Dollywood and the Imagination Library, which has literally donated 100 million books to children around the world? We have no choice but to stan.
But Dolly wasn’t always such a fixture. On this day (May 14) in 1977, she was slowly becoming a household name. She had several hits under her belt as well as a television variety show. She had just a few months earlier released her gospel-inspired album New Harvest…First Gathering and was posted up at NYC’s Bottom Line venue for a three-night run. According to Wolfgangs’ liner notes for this show, it was quite a hot ticket with many celebrities (including Bruce Springsteen and Mick Jagger,) trying to find their way in.
“They told me people in New York City don’t like country music,” Parton says early in the set, “and you people LOVE country, dontcha?”
From there on, the show was a smash. She even performed “I Will Always Love You,” her biggest commercial success which would eventually be covered by Whitney Houston.
Listen to Dolly’s full 1977 NYC set below via the Paste archives.
Read: Dolly Parton is the Key to Comfort During Quarantine