Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors Makes Family Tragedy, Rural Poverty Seem So Dang Cute


Deep in the heart of Dollywood, located deep in the heart of Tennessee, you’ll find a replica of Dolly Parton’s childhood home. Beside it, encased in glass, is the coat her mother made for her out of rags when she was a little girl. Parton, who grew up “dirt poor” in the Smoky Mountains, turned the story of that coat into a song she considers to be the best she’s ever written, “Coat of Many Colors.”

But though the song is a sobering portrait of love and pride in the face of extreme poverty, the upcoming TV movie on which it’s based feels like a memory that’s been retouched beyond recognition. Its trailer seemed to say, “Actually, living in a two-room home with 12 other people and struggling endlessly for every single thing we had was sort of fun!”

In a sneak peek posted by NBC, Ricky Schroder (who plays Dolly’s father) says, “You don’t read scripts like this very often.” After hearing these lines of dialogue, I believe him:

“Love? It ain’t just a feeling. It’s an action.”
“Your singing. It pours out of you like a bucket full of holes.”
“Your songbird lost her voice, and you’re the only one who can help her find it.”
“Every piece of that coat was sewn with love. It was like, Dolly, with every stitch that she was mending our family’s broken hearts.”

Coat of Many Colors premieres next Tuesday on NBC, and, what the hell, I guess I’m going to watch it.

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