How lucky we are to live in a time of vast intellectual resources and in a country that allows nearly unfettered access to them.
We can choose from decades of outstanding music with the slight push of one universally powerful finger, read whole libraries of literature, converse with people whose work we admire, listen to any podcast we choose.
I’m so grateful for the opportunity to experience Dolly Parton’s America.
In Dolly Parton’s America, a podcast hosted by Radiolab’s Jad Abumrad and Shima Oliaee, we get to spend nine episodes with one of earth’s most likable and influential human beings (and living proof that those two adjectives are not mutually exclusive).
Thanks to Oliaee’s thorough research, Abumrad’s deft editing, and a random, charming friendship between Abumrad’s dad and Dolly herself, the podcast offers insight into both Dolly and the America she fiercely champions.
We all matter in Dolly Parton’s America.
We get to empathize with Appalachian college students in a class also called Dolly Parton’s America, which predates the podcast. Through their essays and interviews, we understand that our preconceived ideas about things like regional accents can limit both the victims of our dismissiveness and our own access to stimulation and growth.
We not only hear Dolly’s entertaining stories, we also start to understand why she tells them. I’m always interested in a songwriter’s lyrical inspiration and I feel like I might be the last person on earth to know that she wrote “I will always love you” to let Porter Wagoner know she was leaving his eponymous show.
Dolly Parton’s America helps us understand that we can be singular in our pursuit of goals and still generous in our assessment of the people we meet along the way.
We’re all out here trying to do the best we can with the 24 hours a day we’re given and I know that many of us don’t have a lot of time to spare.
But, if you can scrounge up a little podcast-listening time in your life, I highly recommend Dolly Parton’s America.
You’ll finish it feeling better about this old world and the way we’re all working hard to move through it with kindness and grace.