What Dolly Parton Sacrificed to Be Famous: ‘I Was Gonna Be Rich No Matter How Much It Cost’

Dolly Parton has accomplished inordinate amounts of success throughout the course of her nearly life-long career. But it didn’t come for free. The Queen of Country has sacrificed a lot to be where she is today.

A close-up of Dolly Parton in 'Dolly' in 1988.
Dolly Parton | Bob D’Amico/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

‘The Sacrifice’

Parton wrote “The Sacrifice” in 2011. In her 2020 book, Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics, she writes about how the song came from a personal place.

“This is a song that I wrote that just came out of my heart and soul, my gut,” she wrote. “Sometimes you wonder if you’ve made all the wise choices. Would you do things differently if you could?”

Parton wrote “The Sacrifice” after somebody asked her “How come all this success happened to you?”

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“Well, the answer is, I gave up my time with family and friends,” she wrote. “I gave up vacation for work.”

“I ‘carried my pail,'” she continued. “Like the song says, ‘You don’t drink the water, if you don’t drill the well.’ One of my favorite lines I ever wrote is, ‘I was gonna be rich, no matter how much it cost / And I was going to win, no matter how much I lost.'”

Dolly Parton ‘always felt like God was directing [her]’

When that person asked Parton hows she managed to be so successful, she responded: “Because I sacrificed whatever I had to in order to get it.”

Throughout her entire career, Parton has remained acutely focused.

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“You can’t veer off into this and that,” she wrote. “You can’t lose momentum if you’ve got a dream and a focus. I always felt like God was directing me. So I’m not going to let up until He says, ‘Stop.’ I just keep going, like a horse with blinders on.”

Parton has traveled far and wide to make her dreams a reality.

“I can’t even guess how many miles I’ve traveled following my dreams,” she wrote. “From riding in packed cars to cruising the highways in my custom tour bus, from Hollywood limousines to international jets, I’ve rambled and roamed all my life.”

Does Dolly Parton regret the sacrifices she’s made?

Parton doesn’t think about whether she regrets the course of her life often. But the thought does creep in.

“It’s only in the wee hours, when you’re fading off to sleep, that you ask, ‘Is it worth the sacrifice?'”

The Queen of Country says it is.

“I think I probably wouldn’t have done anything different, because I believe that this is what I was supposed to do,” she wrote. “Who am I not to sacrifice to make things better for the people here that I am responsible for?”

“Yes, I would do it all again,” she continued. “No doubt about it.”