Dolly Parton Reveals Songwriting Secrets During ‘Howard Stern Show’ Appearance

Dolly Parton’s first-ever rock album, Rockstar, was released today (November 17), and while the expansive 30-track collection mostly features covers of classic tunes, Parton also wrote or co-wrote several original songs that appear on the record.

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Parton paid a visit to SiriusXM’s The Howard Stern Show this week to discuss the new album, and she also talked about her process for writing songs, something for which the country legend is particularly accomplished, having been responsible for such classics as “Jolene,” “9 to 5,” and “I Will Always Love You,” to name a few.

Parton admitted her favorite time to write is early in the day when she’s putting on her makeup.

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“When I sit down to do my makeup … I’ve got the table there, I’ve got my makeup laying around, and I’ve got my notepad there, and my little tape recorder,” she explained. “Somehow, just when I’m looking at myself, putting on makeup … my mind is working … my hands are working, and somehow there’s just something about that time of the morning, and when I’m doing that, that I get some of my best ideas.”

The 77-year-old artist stressed that it’s always important for her to have a tape recorder nearby to capture any good melodies that might pop into her head.

“[I]f I get a melody, that’s the same as like words. If you don’t write it down, you’re gonna forget it,” she said. “You’ll think you’ll remember it, but you won’t. Sometimes I’ll dream a song, and I learned years ago, if you don’t wake up and write that down, you will not remember that.”

Parton went on to explain that being mindful to take down any good idea she might come up with is just part of the craft of being a good songwriting.

“I think all writers do that, serious songwriters,” she maintained. “We’ll write on a tablecloth, we’ll write on a napkin, on a Kleenex box, whatever … is handy. And I’ll use a Maybelline pencil, anything I get my hands on, ’cause I know if I don’t do it right then, I will forget it, and then I’ll want to kill myself later to think, ‘What was that great idea? I know it was great!’”

She added, “So you just learn. That’s part of your trade. Don’t take anything for granted. If this is your job, you do it and you do it good.”

As previously reported, Rockstar features Parton collaborating with an impressive roster of famous singers and musicians. Among the many stars who appear on the album are Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Elton John, Sting, Steve Perry, Ann Wilson, John Fogerty, Stevie Nicks, Steven Tyler, Peter Frampton, Joan Jett, Miley Cyrus, P!nk, Debbie Harry, Pat Benatar, Rob Halford, and Sheryl Crow.

Rockstar is available now in multiple formats and configurations.

Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images

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