Pilgrimage to Dollywood: A Country Music Road Trip through Tennessee (Culture Trails: Adventures in Travel) (Hardcover)

Pilgrimage to Dollywood: A Country Music Road Trip through Tennessee (Culture Trails: Adventures in Travel) By Helen Morales Cover Image

Pilgrimage to Dollywood: A Country Music Road Trip through Tennessee (Culture Trails: Adventures in Travel) (Hardcover)


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A star par excellence, Dolly Parton is one of country music’s most likable personalities. Even a hard-rocking punk or orchestral aesthete can’t help cracking a smile or singing along with songs like “Jolene” and “9 to 5.” More than a mere singer or actress, Parton is a true cultural phenomenon, immediately recognizable and beloved for her talent, tinkling laugh, and steel magnolia spirit. She is also the only female star to have her own themed amusement park: Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Every year thousands of fans flock to Dollywood to celebrate the icon, and Helen Morales is one of those fans.

In Pilgrimage to Dollywood, Morales sets out to discover Parton’s Tennessee. Her travels begin at the top celebrity pilgrimage site of Elvis Presley’s Graceland, then take her to Loretta Lynn’s ranch in Hurricane Mills; the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville; to Sevierville, Gatlinburg, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park; and finally to Pigeon Forge, home of the “Dolly Homecoming Parade,” featuring the star herself as grand marshall. Morales’s adventure allows her to compare the imaginary Tennessee of Parton’s lyrics with the real Tennessee where the singer grew up, looking at essential connections between country music, the land, and a way of life. It’s also a personal pilgrimage for Morales. Accompanied by her partner, Tony, and their nine-year-old daughter, Athena (who respectively prefer Mozart and Miley Cyrus), Morales, a recent transplant from England, seeks to understand America and American values through the celebrity sites and attractions of Tennessee.

This celebration of Dolly and Americana is for anyone with an old country soul who relies on music to help understand the world, and it is guaranteed to make a Dolly Parton fan of anyone who has not yet fallen for her music or charisma.
Helen Morales moved from Cambridge, England, to Santa Barbara, California, where she is the Argyropoulos Professor of Hellenic Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Product Details ISBN: 9780226536521
ISBN-10: 0226536521
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication Date: May 30th, 2014
Pages: 192
Language: English
Series: Culture Trails: Adventures in Travel
“Morales has made a moving, provocative pilgrimage through the complex culture—mainly southern—that produces country music and some of its outsized performers. I found her very readable.”
— Larry McMurtry, author of Lonesome Dove

“Part quirky travelogue, part study of celebrity culture, part autobiography, Pilgrimage to Dollywood is a witty and self-aware account of being transplanted into an alien culture and deciding to revel in its (and one’s own) otherness.”
— Times Higher Education

“The heart of the book is Morales’s personal meditation on the Dollywood shrine itself, the theme park for feminism, Christianity, and the Old South, its mythical log-cabin home, its worshippers at the Dolly Dollar cash-tills, and the reputation of the whole (deserved or not: discuss) as ‘the redneck Disneyland.’ This is cultural criticism on holiday . . . frank, self-revelatory, comic and clever, revealing greater identification with the heroine than her day job traditionally allows.”
— Times Literary Supplement

“’This is not a book written from the Olympic heights of an objective observer,’ writes Morales in the introduction to her funny, engaging and erudite book. ‘I confess up front that I love Dolly Parton and her music.’”
— Times (UK)

“It’ll make you want to experience your own pilgrimage, with the windows down and ‘Jolene’ blaring.”
— Bust