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Dolly Parton rolled out the latest song from her upcoming all-star debut rock record Rockstar (Nov. 17) on Friday (Sept. 22), a moving cover of the 1993 4 Non Blondes song “What’s Up?” And because the country legend was determined to make her first foray legit, she collaborated on the song with former Non Blondes singer Linda Perry.
The superstar songwriter/producer (Christina Aguilera, P!nk, Adele) also appears in the just-released video for the song, which was filmed at a Nashville elementary school on the hottest day of the year. “First of all, I love Linda Perry. Second of all, I love this song written by Linda,” Parton said in a statement about the song that perennially asks a question with no clear answer about the state of the world today.
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“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,” Parton, 77, added. “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.”
The visual for the poignant take on the tune finds Parton singing the song on a stage — with Perry gently strumming an acoustic guitar — as children from Nashville’s Eakin Elementary school sit at her feet. Parton has long supported childhood literacy through her Imagination Library project, which has distributed more than 200 million books since 1995.
“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 in a statement. “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!”
The Perry track is the latest preview of the anticipated 30-song collection (21 covers, 9 originals), following last month’s Paul McCartney/Ringo Starr-assisted cover of the Beatles’ “Let It Be,” originals “World on Fire” and “Bygones” (featuring Judas Priest’s Rob Halford), as well as covers of Queen’s “We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions”) and Heart’s “Magic Man.”
Among the rock world luminaries joining Parton on the album are: Sting (“Every Breath You Take”), former Journey singer Steve Perry (“Open Arms”), John Fogerty (“Long as I Can See the Light”), Joan Jett (“I Hate Myself For Loving You”), goddaughter Miley Cyrus (“Wrecking Ball”), Debbie Harry (“Heart of Glass”) and Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo (“Heartbreaker”), among many others.
Watch Parton and Perry’s What’s Up? video below.
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