The Artist Dolly Parton Feels ‘Is More Like Me Musically Than Anybody Else I Know’
There’s no one like Dolly Parton. But according to the Queen of Country herself, there’s someone pretty close — at least musically. That person is Ricky Skaggs, American neotraditional country and bluegrass singer, musician, producer, and composer. He plays fiddle, guitar, mandocaster, and banjo. Parton has always felt that Skaggs really understands her as an artist, because they’re so similar. That’s why she fought for him to produce her White Limozeen album in 1989.
Why Dolly Parton was so intent on having Ricky Skaggs produce ‘White Limozeen’
White Limozeen was Parton’s twenty-ninth solo album. It was released on May 30, 1989 by Columbia Records.
“I felt very strongly about Ricky Skaggs producing this record, because I feel that Ricky is more like me musically than anybody else I know,” Parton wrote in her 2020 book, Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics. “He understood the ‘old Dolly,’ as far as the pure mountain music and what country music really is. What I wanted to do was an album that was really authentic sounding.”
Dolly Parton’s record company questioned her choice
Parton wanted to return to an authentic country sound after her pop album, Rainbow, in 1987. Skaggs seemed like the perfect person to help her accomplish that goal. But not everyone felt the same way.
“A lot of people thought I had lost my mind,” wrote Parton. “People even at the record company and even within my own management company were saying, ‘Are you crazy?’ What are you choosin’ Ricky Skaggs for?’ I said, ‘Well, I happen to believe that Ricky Skaggs is one of the most talented people in the music business.'”
In the end, Skaggs produced the album and Parton was happy with the finished product.
“Ricky did a wonderful, wonderful job,” she wrote. “I loved working with him. He’s so even tempered, has a great sense of humor, is sweet, and has great ears. Ricky was fantastic, just as I thought he would be.”
The title song, ‘White Limozeen’
Parton says the album’s title song “came from a very funny place.”
“When I was doing the Dolly TV series, I called Mac [Davis] to see if he’d be interested in writing some songs,” she wrote. “He was thrilled. I had a limousine that was paid for by the studio. I called Mac up and said, ‘I’m comin’ up to your house. We’re gonna write like we’re hungry again.’ Mac lives in a mansion in Beverly Hills. As we headed up the hill, I realized what I had said. I thought, ‘Oh sure, we’re gonna write like we’re hungry again, and here I go in a white limousine up to Mac’s mansion.'”
When Parton got out of the car, she told Mac: “I feel like such an idiot telling you we were gonna write like we were hungry. We have got to write something about a white limousine!”
He said, “Well, let’s just do it.”
So they got right to work.
“He got out his guitar and started picking,” she wrote. “It turned out that we were very complementary songwriters. We were matching each other line for line. We were impressed with each other. That was the first song we ever wrote together. The other one we wrote that night was ‘Wait ‘Til I Get You Home.'”