It’s official: Dolly Parton is a rock legend.
The country music diva, 77, released her highly anticipated, rock-inspired album Rockstar on Friday, in part to celebrate her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The 30-track collection includes originals as well as renditions of rock classics, including a standout performance of Prince’s «Purple Rain.»
While many of the other versions have Parton collaborating with collaborators or even joining the original artist for an updated version of their song, she opted to honor the Purple One by performing «Purple Rain» alone.
The «Jolene» vocalist maintains closeness to the original while stressing its gospellic aspects with a backup choir to further convert it into an ethereal rock hymn.
Parton’s revamped rendition of the legendary power ballad from the late music legend’s smash 1984 album is carried by a shredding country-rock guitar and the dominating tone of the pop icon’s Tennessee twang. Parton transports fans to rock heaven as soon as the choir enters at roughly two minutes, and especially as the song breaks into a magnificent arrangement of harmonies and ’70s-style guitar solos.
«I only want to see you bathing in the purple rain,» the pop icon says dramatically, as if she’s addressing the late rock singer personally.
Many fans have already flocked to social media to choose «Purple Rain» as their favorite Rockstar cover. «Dolly Parton singing Purple Rain is honestly transcendent,» wrote one X user on the network (previously known as Twitter).
Meanwhile, another admirer stated that the song moved them to tears. «Dolly Parton’s Purple Rain rendition is breathtaking.» «Every time I listen to it, I cry,» they wrote on X. «Thank you, @DollyParton, for this beautiful tribute to Prince.»
The song, which lasts just under eight minutes, is one of numerous rock epics on the new album (available on Butterfly Records and Big Machine). The «9 to 5» singer also collaborated with Lizzo and her flute—dubbed Sasha Flute by fans—for a mystical-sounding, nearly eight-minute version of Led Zeppelin’s «Stairway to Heaven.» To round up the album, she and Lynyrd Skynyrd perform their iconic «Free Bird.»
Several additional A-listers appear throughout the film. Fellow superstars include Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr on «Let It Be,» Elton John on «Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,» and Joan Jett & the Blackhearts on «I Hate Myself for Loving You.» There are also a few modern names, such as Miley Cyrus, who sang «Wrecking Ball» with her godmother, and Pink and Brandi Carlile, who added their own spin to The Rolling Stones’ «(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.»
Parton told people last year, before her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, about her plans for a rock project, which she subsequently unveiled in May of this year.
«I’m going to have to live up to it if I’m going to be in the Hall of Fame,» she stated at the time, «so I’m going to do a rock ‘n’ roll album, and I’m going to pull people from the rock ‘n’ roll field to sing with me on it.» «Instead of performing a collection of great rock songs, I intend to utilize some of the greatest.»
She also stated that she intended to create Rockstar with the help of her husband, Carl Thomas Dean. «I’m doing the rock ‘n’ roll album because of him,» she said. «I had often considered making a rock ‘n’ roll album of his favorite songs for him.» So, when this opportunity arose, I decided to go ahead and take it. It had all the makings of a perfect storm. «All right, it’s time.»