The Dolly Parton Song About ‘How God Talks to [Her]’

While Dolly Parton is not religious, she is “very, very spiritual.” Talking to God is a big part of her songwriting. In fact, she wrote a whole song about it. Here’s what “God’s Coloring Book” really means to the Queen of Country.

Dolly Parton dressed as Ruby Diamond on 'Unlikely Angel'
Dolly Parton | CBS via Getty Images

‘God’s Coloring Book’

“God’s Coloring Book” made its debut in 1977 on Parton’s million-selling LP Here You Come Again. But it was also recorded by Bluegrass Hall of Fame members the Country Gentlemen and by Country Music Hall of Famer Charley Pride. The song is about how Parton sees God in the world around her — “The grayness in an old man’s hair, the pink in babies’ cheeks, the blackness in a stormy sky, the brown in fallen leaves.”

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“God’s Coloring Book is about how God talks to me,” Parton wrote in her 2020 book Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics. “A lot of people think that because I look so artificial, I never spend time outside. But I would never live anywhere but on a farm. I love to be out in nature. I have to smell the flowers. I have to touch the trees and the leaves. I sit under trees to write songs. I listen to God’s voice through the wind. I have to have that. I have to be part of that, and I am.”

Dolly Parton grew up surrounded by nature

Parton grew up in the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. She spent most of her time running around outside of her family’s one-bedroom shack. It was during this time that Parton began to realize the majesty of nature. It was a spiritual experience for the “Light of a Clear Blue Morning” singer.

“Growing up in the mountains, like we did, we were a part of the birds and the bees and the trees and the flowers,” she wrote. “‘God’s Coloring Book’ expresses my spirituality and explains my connection with God. When I see nature’s colors, that’s when I am closest to Him. I think that I am at my best when I write songs that are connected to God, as I see Him.”

Dolly Parton’s contributions to gospel music

Parton is one of the few artists to have gospel songs turn into major hits. Her gospel roots run so deep, you can hear their influence on much of her songwriting.

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But Parton hasn’t just experienced success with her own gospel songs (like “The Seeker” and “Daddy Was an Old Time Preacher Man“). She won a CMA Award with Brad Paisley for his “When I Get Where I’m Going” and a Grammy Award thanks to her collaboration with For Kings & Country on their song “God Only Knows.”

Additionally, Dollywood is the home of the Southern Gospel Hall of Fame. And, in 2009, Parton joined the national Gospel Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee.

“Gospel songs are so embedded in me,” she wrote in her book. “That music means so much to me, to this day.”