Tennessee’s Dolly Parton Travel Guide: A Musical Roadtrip

Dolly parton Tennessee’s love is no secret. One need only listen to his many songs about his upbringing in The Volunteer State to understand just how much The Smoky Mountains region has shaped her as a person and a singer-songwriter.

“My Tennessee Mountain Home,” “Tennessee Homesick Blues” and “Appalachian Memories” are just a few of the country legend’s songs that pay homage to the roots of his upbringing.

If you’re planning a Dolly-themed getaway to Tennessee, all you need is the Queen of the Country’s discography for a guide. (But we’re here to help, too.) Read on for Dolly Parton’s Music Travel Guide to Tennessee.

Sevierville

Country singer Dolly Parton poses for a portrait circa 1955 in Tennessee. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images)

“In my mountain house in Tennessee
life is as peaceful as a baby’s sigh. “

– “My Tennessee Mountain Home”, extract from My Tennessee Mountain Home, 1973

It all started in Seveierville. Dolly Rebecca Parton, born January 19, 1946, was delivered by Dr. Robert F. Thomas in her parents’ cabin at Locust Ridge. Thomas was a minister and family doctor dedicated to providing quality medical care to the residents of Sevier County, Tennessee.

“Dr. Thomas was a man the Lord had to name
live among us, the highlanders of eastern Tennessee
And he gave birth to more than half of the babies in these mountains
Among those babies, he gave birth to me. “

– “Robert F. Thomas,” My Tennessee Mountain Home, 1973

It goes without saying that Sevierville is proud to be the home of Dolly Parton. In 1987, a statue of the country’s legend was unveiled on the lawn of the Sevier County Courthouse. This is a must have for any Parton fan.

Statue of Dolly Parton: 125 Court Ave Sevierville, TN 37862

Today, Parton still owns the one bedroom log cabin where she was born and raised and over the years she has spent a few million dollars restore it.

“What we tried to do was make it look like it was when we lived there, but we wanted it to be functional,” Parton once said. “So I spent a few million dollars to make it look like I spent $ 50 on it.”

While you can’t visit Dolly’s real Tennessee Mountain Home (it’s on private property that’s close and dear to the Parton family), the next best thing is located in its theme park up the road …

Dollywood

Dolly Parton poses in front of the Dollywood panel
PIGEON FORGE, TN – OCTOBER 24: American singer and songwriter Dolly Parton poses for a portrait at Dollywood on October 24, 1988 in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. (Photo by Ron Davis / Getty Images)

Dollywood is the ultimate trek for Dolly fans. In 1986, Parton and his partners took over the Silver Dollar City theme park in Pigeon Forge to create Dollywood, a celebration of the country’s iconic Smoky Mountain region beloved.

Dollywood: 2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863

Inside Dollywood is a replica of the log cabin where Parton grew up with her brothers and sisters. The cabin replica was built by Parton’s brother, Bobby, and the interior was recreated by his mother Avie Lee. Inside the cabin are historical treasures of the Parton family, so you feel like you’re walking in real life.

Read more: Dolly Parton’s parents inspired her music and charity

American singer Dolly Parton singing with a guitar, circa 1970.
American singer Dolly Parton singing with guitar, circa 1970 (Photo by Gems / Redferns via Getty Images)

But there’s even more Parton story inside Dollywood. The park’s Chasing Rainbows Museum contains a replica of the coat in multiple colors, the subject of the singer-songwriter’s 1969 classic. The coat was lovingly recreated by Parton’s mother.

“My coat of many colors that my mom made for me
Made only from rags but I wore it so proudly
Even though we had no money
I was rich as I could be
In my coat of many colors
my mom did for me “

– “Coat of several colors,” Coat of several colors, 1971

Read more: Rooted in the Country: Ginger Minj on Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors”

Pigeon Forge

Singer Dolly Parton attends an RCA party after a concert in San Francisco, California
Singer Dolly Parton attends an RCA After-Show Party in San Francisco, California. (Photo by © Roger Ressmeyer / CORBIS / VCG via Getty Images)

After spending a day in Dollywood you can relax at Parton’s DreamMore Resort. Inside the complex is a recording of a secret song by Dolly Parton kept in a time capsule (the Dream Box), which will not open until 2045. The Dream Box is located in the lower hall from the seaside resort.

DreamMore Resort and Spa: 2525 DreamMore Wy, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863

Nashville

Photo of Dolly Parton in a car
Photo by Nigel Scot McNeil / Fairfax Media via Getty Images

Nashville is only a four hour drive from Parton’s hometown of Sevierville, but it might as well have been another world.

As parton wrote in “The Letter”, one of the many personal songs of her My Tennessee Mountain Home album, Nashville wasn’t exactly what she thought it would be. She was homesick for the Smoky Mountains and her family, but she knew Music City was where it was meant to be. (Her move to Nashville was written in the stars in more than one way; the day she moved to town, she met her future husband, Carl Dean, at the Wishy Washy laundromat.)

“I almost cried all the way to Nashville
and I wanted to turn around several times and come back
But you know how much I always wanted to go to Nashville
and be a singer and songwriter
And I believe if I try long enough and hard enough
that one day I will get there. ”

– “The Letter”, My Tennessee Mountain Home, 1973

As she wrote in that 1964 letter, Parton got a job singing on The Eddie Hill Show and quickly aroused the interest of other artists who wanted to record his songs. A few years later, she would join The Porter Wagoner Show, which made it possible to present the multi-talented artist to a wider audience. Finally, Parton was ready to go out on her own. She wrote “I will always love you” for her friend Wagoner as a “goodbye”. Inspired by her newfound freedom, she also wrote “Light of a clear blue morning” on the drive to Wagoner’s office.

Photo of Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner
Photo of Dolly PARTON and Porter WAGONER and Dolly PARTON; G / D. Porter Wagoner, Dolly Parton (Photo by GAB Archive / Redferns)

“Because I can see the light of a clear blue morning / I can see the light of a brand new day / I can see the light of a clear blue morning / Oh, and everything will be fine / Everything will be fine. “-” The Light of a Clear Blue Morning “, from New Harvest … First Gathering, 1977

But Parton was not an overnight success. Before landing a spot on The Porter Wagoner Show (or getting a Top 40 hit with “Dumb Blonde”), she was a newcomer from Nashville pounding the curb on Music Row, the Nashville home where record company offices and recording studios.

“I got to Nashville early
Asleep, hungry, tired and dirty
And on the steps of RCA
I ate a stale and sweet bun
In the Hall of Fame fountain
I washed my face and read the names
In the alley of stars
Down in the music row. ”

– “Down on Music Row”, My Tennessee Mountain Home, 1973

Another landmark of Parton is RCA Studio B, where Parton first recorded with Wagoner – and was in a car accident.

“In my rush to get to the studio that day, I forgot a basic part of driving: braking,” Parton wrote in My life and other unfinished business (quote via RCA Studio B Blog). “I got to the old RCA studio on Music Row and headed straight for the side of the building. Bricks were still falling on the hood of my car as I casually walked into the recording session, as if nothing serious had happened. When we took a break a little later, the men went out to smoke a cigarette and noticed my car stuck in the wall. They commented on it, but I never did. nothing said or confessed that it was my car.

RCA Studio B History: 1611 Roy Acuff Pl Nashville, TN

No Dolly Parton tour of Nashville is complete without a trip to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, where Parton is honored in the Hall of Fame rotunda (she was inducted in 1999) or the Grand Olé Opry, where Parton made his debut at the age of 13. Ten years later, she had become a member of the historical institution.

Country Music Hall of Fame: 222 Representative John Lewis Way S, Nashville, TN 37203

Grand Ole Opry: 2804 Opryland Drive, Nashville, TN 37214

While in town, grab a bite to eat at Classic Meat Restaurant and three Arnold’s Country Kitchen eateries (said to be one of Parton’s favorites) and order a drink at White Limozeen, a Dolly-themed rooftop bar.

Arnold’s Country Kitchen: 605 8th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37203

White Limozeen: 101 20th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37203

So I uprooted myself from my homeland and left
I took my dreams and hit the road
When a flower grows wild
He can still survive
Wildflowers don’t care where they grow

– Wild flowers, of the trio, 1987

Planning your own road trip to Dolly Parton, Tennessee? Check out our reading list below.

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