Dolly Parton

"That fact that Dolly Parton simply exists makes me happy."

PREVIEW That fact that Dolly Parton simply exists makes me happy. Of course, if the now-62-year-old lady from Locust Ridge, Tenn., didn't exist, it's likely she would have been invented by some lonesome trucker with a Venus of Willendorf complex — or by Merle Haggard. (Witness Redding's Cali-country legend crushing hard in 1981's Sing Me Back Home [Times Books]: "I didn't just fall in love with the image of Dolly Parton. Hell, I fell in love with that exceptional human being who lives underneath all that bunch of fluffy hair, fluttery eyelashes, and superboobs.") The mythology is firmly in place: the dirt-poor upbringing as the fourth of 12 hungry mouths to feed in a broken-down, one-room cabin in Tennessee's Great Smoky Mountains. There's the idea that despite the protestations of so many smitten suitors, including the Hag, Parton has remained wedded to Carl Dean, raising and playing "Aunty Granny" to younger siblings — and filling in as godmother to Miley Cyrus. Her accomplishments as a songwriter and vocalist almost seem like mere frosting next to the C&W tales and Tinseltown efforts, though numbers like "Coat of Many Colors" match many tunes in Haggard's catalog in their economy, storytelling, and resonance, while such cover turns as mentor Porter Wagoner's "Lonely Comin' Down" still possess an emotional power more than three decades along, thanks to Parton. And the moths still flutter toward her flame: Parton recently contributed vocals to a new song written for Jessica Simpson ("Guess you could say it's the 'blonde leading the blonde'," Parton has quipped), and a 9 to 5 musical, for which Parton wrote the music and lyrics, premieres in Los Angeles Sept. 20. Word has it that back problems kept the Tennessee Mountain thrush from South By Southwest this year, but one can only hope her recent, wildly successful European tour supporting Backwoods Barbie, her first self-released long-player, will smooth the way to the Greek's stage. So say hello.

DOLLY PARTON Tues/5, 8 p.m., $39.50–$125. Greek Theatre, UC Berkeley, Hearst and Gayley, Berk. (510) 809-0100,

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