On A&E’s new biography about Dolly Parton, several of the famous country music star’s friends and family give interviews, including her longtime friends Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, with whom Parton starred in the 1980 hit 9 to 5.
While Parton’s friendship with Fonda and Tomlin is well known, another woman is seen throughout the documentary that might surprise people — Linda Perry, the former frontwoman for 4 Non Blondes and hit-making record producer. Here’s how Perry and Parton came to know each other and why they have remained friends.
Perry and Parton Earned a Grammy Nomination Together
In 2018, director Anne Fletcher and producer/star Jennifer Aniston asked Perry and Parton to work together to create a theme song for the Netflix movie Dumplin’. By the time they were done collaborating, they ended up creating a double album of six new songs and a whole host of re-recordings.
“Girl in the Movies” went on to receive a Grammy nomination for Best Song Written for Visual Media. Ahead of the 2020 Grammys, Perry told The Hollywood Reporter that she’s been a huge Parton fan for years and when the movie’s music supervisor, Buck Damon, called her to talk about “possibly writing a song with Dolly Parton,” her response was, “What do you mean, ‘possibly’?”
“I said, ‘If you f*cking go anywhere else, I will kill you. I will track you down. I am the girl for this, hire me. I’m perfect for this,” said Perry.
In a separate interview, Parton told THR that she didn’t know Perry before they worked together, but when they met, they “clicked like you wouldn’t believe.”
“I didn’t know Linda, actually, so I was just being a good sport and was just flattered and honored that there was a movie being made that was paying some kind of homage to me,” said Parton. “[Then] I got with Linda and we just clicked like you wouldn’t believe. I was very surprised because I don’t write with people. I’m very picky about that. I’ve written with very few people in my whole lifetime. We started writing and working on what we thought would be the theme song, but we were so inspired we just kept just writing and writing and writing songs they hadn’t even asked for!”
Perry Has Always Admired Parton’s Songwriting Ability and Business Acumen
In the A&E biography, Perry talks at length about how canny Parton has been navigating the music world, especially coming up in a time when women weren’t supposed to also be businesswomen.
“She’s mastered the design of how to be a woman and succeed in this business without making a man feel bad. In fact, without making anybody feel bad,” says Perry.
Perry also says Parton is going to keep right on making music until one day, she’ll just disappear, like a fairy.
“That woman’s not retiring, there’s no reason for her to retire. She’s still writing songs, she’s got like over 1000 songs people haven’t heard, she has Dollywood, she’s making movies. She’s not going anywhere anytime soon and when she decides that, I bet we’re never even gonna know. It’s like, I bet Dolly’s just gonna [snaps fingers] disappear,” says Perry.
The Dolly Parton A&E biography airs Sunday, April 12 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., followed by Willie Nelson: American Outlander, a special concert that pays tribute to Nelson’s seven-decades-long career.