For her latest rock cover, Dolly Parton takes a deep breath and gets real high on a cover of 4 Non Blondes’ “What’s Up?” She even gets a little help from the song’s writer and original singer, Linda Perry.
In Parton’s hands, the tune has a country swing to the rhythm and a little twang in the way she sings “peculiar,” that’s anything but peculiar. There’s also a special weight to the song’s final words: “After years and my life is still tryin’ to get up that great big hill of hope for a destination,” the 77-year-old sings. Perry just sweetens the harmonies on the track, which will appear on Parton’s upcoming Rockstar album, out Nov. 17.
More from Rolling Stone
A video for the tune, which premiered on CMT’s website, shows Parton singing the song on the stage at Nashville’s Eakin Elementary with Perry playing acoustic guitar in front of her. As they sing, kids pop their heads in the theater and start forming an audience for the artists. The clip, of course, ends in the cutest way possible.
“First of all, I love Linda Perry,” Parton said in a statement. “Second of all, I love this song written by Linda. Third of all, I love being a part of this video to try to make people think about what’s going on in this world today. Shout out to the little children that helped with the video! If our children don’t make it, then what will? Again, I ask, ‘What’s Up?’ Enjoy.”
“How is one supposed to react when the greatest and most prolific songwriter in the world wants to cover a song YOU wrote?” Perry said. “Her version of ‘What’s Up?’ is so good. Her spin on it made me feel like it was her song. No surprise there. Being on set making the video was a comfortable easy experience. The vibe on set was chill and Dolly and I got to catch up and laugh a lot. I could go on and on, obviously I’m a fan!”
For Rockstar, Parton is embracing her rock & roll side, something she has said she wasn’t fully aware of until the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame decided to induct her. She debuted the single “World on Fire” at the ACM Awards in May and quickly followed it with an original song, “Bygones,” that featured Judas Priest’s Rob Halford and a cover of Heart’s “Magic Man” with Ann Wilson. She’s also covered Queen’s conjoined-twin singles “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions.” She also became part of the Fab Three on a cover of “Let It Be” with both Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.
Best of Rolling Stone