Dolly Parton Once Said There Are Things About Her That ‘Might Shock People’: ‘I’m No Goody-Goody’

Dolly Parton may be America’s sweetheart, but that doesn’t mean she’s a “goody-goody.” Especially early in her career, the Queen of Country would hint at an edgier side to herself that she didn’t show her fans. In an interview with Family Circle in 1979, she said there were things about her “I feel might shock people.”

Dolly Parton as Ruby Diamond on 'Unlikely Angel,' a made for television movie, originally broadcast December 17, 1996.
Dolly Parton as Ruby Diamond on ‘Unlikely Angel’ | CBS via Getty Images

Dolly Parton kept her fans in mind when she created her image

Parton’s public persona was originally created as a gimmick to draw in fans. She once called it a character she played “like a ventriloquist does his dummy.” The “Jolene” singer kept her fans in mind as the character evolved. She never wanted to do anything that would turn people off.

“There are things about myself I can’t reveal right now,” she told Family Circle in 1979, as recorded in the book Dolly on Dolly, “things I feel might shock people. I’m no goody-goody. I’d hate bein’ a vanilla person with no mystery in my life. I’m naturally curious and I’ve tried a little bit of everythin’ that wouldn’t mess up my brain. But I have a responsibility, you know, to my fans and all.”

Dolly Parton was hesitant to become a Christian because she ‘won’t have no fun if I’m too good’

The Family Circle interview wasn’t the only time Parton spoke about the tendency she has to sometimes lean “bad.” When she was interviewed by Rolling Stone back in 1977, she spoke about her inspiration for her song “The Seeker.” She wrote it when she was deciding whether or not she wanted to become a Christian.

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“I know there is a God and He is still the best friend I got in the world,” she said. “I talk to Him often, but I’m one of the world’s sinners. I think I’m a vanilla sinner—too bad to be good and too good to be bad. Because it wouldn’t be all that hard to be good but I just don’t know that I want to be. I think I won’t have no fun if I’m too good. But I had some friends that had just been renewed and they were real happy about it and so religion was real heavy on my mind. I just could not decide whether I wanted to be a Christian or not.”

Dolly Parton’s air of mystery

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While Parton has been mostly an open book for much of her life and career, there are parts of herself she’s kept hidden from her fans.

“I guess I am mysterious, because there are so many things that I don’t tell,” she told biographer Alanna Nash. “But I don’t want to. I mean, I’m sure everybody has lots of things that they don’t want people to know they do, or things they feel that they wouldn’t want to say for fear somebody’d think they’re perverted or crazy or somethin’. But you still feel ’em just the same.”