Of Course Dolly Parton Turned Down Her Rock Hall Nomination

photo: Rob Hoffman

Boy did I catch some hell for having the audacity to say that despite all of our love for the great and powerful Dolly Parton—which should be taken as a given simply by evoking her name—she didn’t deserve to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. At least not yet.

In fact, I’ve said it twice.

I got especially trounced on Facebook. Let’s dig up some of those comments…

I couldn’t disagree more with your very disrespectful article. Dolly Parton has done more in her 60+ years in the music industry than probably anyone. Her talent spreads thru all genres of music. She’s sang with almost everyone. If not induct her now then when…after she’s gone and not able to be given the recognition she deserves … She’s deserving and I’m offended by this article. You call yourself saving country music. Dolly was, is and will always be country music and she deserves all of our respect and an apology from you.

Oof. Tell us how you really feel. Here’s a couple more:

This is absurd and nonsensical- it’s such a stupid statement in fact, it has to be parody or click-bait, right?

Dolly Parton deserves to be in the Rock n Roll HOF. Stop the nonsense and this is a BS article just from the title. Hate to break it to you but she’s getting in.

Got to give credit to that last one though, because it’s right. If Dolly Parton had not put a stop to it, she would have gotten in. There would be no question about it. Her star power is so immense, she would have overshadowed all of the other nominees, and was doing so already with the media coverage on the 2022 Rock Hall of Fame inductees, and would have parsed the votes between the other female nominees who actually do fit into the rock genre, making it more difficult for them to get in.

So Dolly did the most Dolly thing she could do, and once again exemplified why we all love her. She bowed out of contention for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2022. And for all the right reasons, and while saying all of the right things.

“Even though I’m extremely flattered and grateful to be nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I don’t feel that I have earned that right,” Parton said in a statement released Monday morning (3-14). “I really do not want votes to be split because of me, so I must respectfully bow out.”

Dolly continues, “I do hope that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will understand and be willing to consider me again—if I’m ever worthy…”

Yes! This was never about forever excluding Dolly Parton from contention for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the future, just the fair concern that as a predominately country artist—and one with such a huge footprint—she would lock out other women more native to rock who deserve, and in some cases, need a Hall of Fame induction to cement their legacy, while Dolly Parton’s legacy is secured 1,000 times over, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction or not.

I get it. As a naked question, if someone asks you, “Should Dolly Parton be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?” your tendency is to want to say “Yes.” Because you love Dolly Parton. But it’s really a two-part question. The real question is, “What artist native to rock and roll would you like to leave out of the Hall of Fame in 2022 so Dolly Parton can get in?” or “What are the ramifications of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducting Dolly Parton?”

As soon as Dolly Parton was inducted, it would immediately open the floodgates for other country artists to be considered—Willie Nelson, Garth Brooks, Loretta Lynn, etc. etc., and never-ending, with dozens of artists immediately feeling like gross oversights. As country fans, we should be better stewards of music and neighbors to our brethren in rock. We have a Country Music Hall of Fame, and Dolly Parton is already in it. We don’t need to borrow theirs.

And I get it, trust me. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has already been plundered with names from the pop and hip-hop worlds. But guess what, pop and hip-hop don’t have a Hall of Fame, like country does. There should be a Hip-Hop Hall of Fame. It’s the biggest genre in America and the world at the moment. But putting Dolly Parton in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame doesn’t solve that problem. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Some day there will be a time when the amount of rock nominees for the Hall of Fame is so thin, Dolly Parton, or perhaps other country artists would make good nominees. 2022 is not that year. But when that times comes, then, respectfully, we’ll ask that perhaps Dolly be considered, beside her friend Whitney Houston, and others for their pop contributions.

And yes, I know there are some country artists in the Rock Hall already—Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, and others as Early Influence inductees. But these artists have legitimate ties to rock. Dolly Parton just doesn’t.

This situation reminds one of the statue controversy involving Dolly Parton in early 2021. In that instance, Tennessee House Bill 135 looked to erect a statue of Dolly on the grounds of the Tennessee Capitol. A previous bill has also worked to replace a bust of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest with one of Dolly Parton. Both efforts received universal popular support, including a petition with over 25,000 signatures.

But a deceptive article in Rolling Stone Country that misquoted the bill’s author, Democrat State Representative John Mark Windle, polarized and politicized the subject, asserting it should be a black icon to receive a statue instead of Dolly. After the article, Parton came out publicly and said she didn’t feel it was the right time to erect a statue in her honor.

Of course, where the Dolly Parton statue had private funding already lined up, an organization formed to oversee its planning and construction, and a bill certifying the effort, this hypothetical statue of a black icon at the Tennessee Capitol has seen absolutely no planning or organizational support behind it whatsoever. The small, but loud individuals advocating for it never followed through. It was simply a lark on Twitter. There was never even any consensus behind what Black icon should actually be honored.

But in both cases, Dolly Parton proved that she was above the bickering of all us plebeians. By pulling out of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame contention, Dolly Parton did her legacy even one better, and perhaps even more than an induction would have done, while now a more relevant nominee to rock and roll will hopefully enjoy a worthy induction.

Meanwhile, Dolly says, “This has, however, inspired me to put out a hopefully great rock ‘n’ roll album at some point in the future, which I have always wanted to do! … I wish all the nominees good luck and thank you again for the compliment. Rock on!”

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