She Come By It Natural | Sarah Smarsh

Summary of: She Come By It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs
By: Sarah Smarsh


In ‘She Come By It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs’, Sarah Smarsh delves into the life and music of country superstar Dolly Parton. Highlighting Parton’s journey from her humble beginnings in Appalachia to worldwide acclaim, this book presents an intimate exploration of Parton’s art, innate feminism, and her influence on the lives of women, including Smarsh’s own experiences growing up in rural poverty. By discussing key events in Parton’s life, such as her successes and struggles, the book offers readers an engaging glimpse into the American subculture and the resilience of women like Parton who rose above adversity.

Dolly Parton’s Path to Stardom

Sarah Smarsh explores Dolly Parton’s journey from Appalachia to global fame and how her life and music reflect female resilience and power in often misunderstood American subcultures. Smarsh examines and analyzes Parton’s music in terms of feminism, politics, and emotional pain. The author’s remarkable intelligence and sensitivity provide insight into Parton’s art and career success, which resonate with American values and Smarsh’s own life experience. Smarsh’s chronicle presents Parton’s rise to stardom as an example of female empowerment, shedding light on the significance of the country superstar’s journey.

Dolly Parton’s Influence

In her book “Heartland,” Sarah Smarsh recounts how Dolly Parton’s life and music shaped her feminism. Parton’s humble beginnings as one of twelve children on a farm without electricity or plumbing influenced her strong work ethic and business acumen. Smarsh reflects on how Parton’s stage persona and style of dress created a sense of safety from male assault for poor women. Parton’s songs express gratitude for the present moment, despite hard life experiences, and promote inclusive positivity. Although she avoids public politics, Parton uses her live performances to remind people to feel proud of who they are and where they come from.

Dolly Parton’s Business Foresight

Dolly Parton’s music career is highlighted, showcasing her early successes and her business sense. Parton was co-hosting a show on national TV, but her salary was low. However, after Parton created her own publishing company, she owned all the rights and revenues from her songs, making her the only person who profits from them. When Elvis Presley wanted to record “I Will Always Love You,” Parton initially agreed until he demanded 50% of the song’s future publishing revenue. Parton refused, and the song later became a hit on the soundtrack of “The Bodyguard,” earning her enough money to “buy Graceland.”

Dolly Parton’s Rebirth

Dolly Parton’s challenging journey through sexism and self-acceptance comes to light in this book, where Sarah Smarsh highlights Parton’s resilience, wit, and creativity.

Dolly Parton’s legendary career has inspired generations, but her rise to fame was far from easy. In the movie 9 to 5, Parton played a flashy blonde secretary named Doralee who, like the singer, suffered from mistreatment and underestimation. That was a reflection of Parton’s onstage presence, where her talent was often overlooked for her appearance. This double standard shaped Parton’s life, as she continued to be judged for her body, wit, and creativity.

Parton’s personal journey through the entertainment industry is a powerful example of resilience, reflected in her decision to undergo surgery to restore her image after losing weight in the 1980s. Her humor and wit shine through her often-tacky persona, hinting at the pain hidden beneath the surface. In 1982, Parton hit a low point when the United States failed to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment again. Her emotional and physical breakdown was seemingly the end, but Parton viewed it as a rebirth, which led her to create Dollywood, a theme park in her home mountains.

Sarah Smarsh, born the year 9 to 5 debuted, uses an autobiographical lens to empathize with Parton’s journey. Through Smarsh’s story, we understand Parton’s perspective and the challenges she faced and her rebuilding process, culminating in her great success.

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