Terry Morrow: More analysis could turn Dolly Parton's 'Song' around

Dolly Parton’s classic songs are examined in a new Ovation series tonight.$RETURN$$RETURN$

Dolly Parton’s classic songs are examined in a new Ovation series tonight.$RETURN$$RETURN$

Songwriting purists might not find a lot to like about “Song by Song: Dolly Parton,” which examines one of her iconic numbers each week.

There’s little true dissecting going on. Instead, Parton and commentators chew over highlights of Parton’s early Nashville career days, back when she was regarded as the “girl singer” on “The Porter Wagoner Show.”

So “Song by Song” (8 p.m. Monday, Ovation; check with your local cable provider about if the channel is available to you) makes for a better muck fest than a tutorial in how to pen a song that endures decades of use.

“Dolly can write songs for everybody” to relate to, Carrie Underwood explains in “Song by Song.”

Still “Song by Song” does touch on some of the process. How “I Will Always Love You” came to be is touched up on. It was not as an anthem to the end of a sexual love affair but, rather, a parting of the ways between a family-like bond. The explosion of emotion as a result transcended merely spoken words. Instead, it was destined to be a song to best express the sadness.

Dolly fan Kristin Chenoweth sums up her idol’s appeal simply, by citing how “I Will Always Love You” has versatility has given it longevity. Since the tune was used in “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” and “The Bodyguard,” Chenoweth notes Parton has a knack for creating a song that can be acceptable, hilarious and heartwarming” at the same time.

Such a combination has given the song unparalleled life. In the 1990s, Whitney Houston’s interpretation alone sold more than 12 million copies. Such an accolade is mind-blowing but hardly brings us closer to what gave it such magic.

Score: 3 stars (out of five)

Terry Morrow may be reached at 865-342-6445 or morrowt@knoxville.com.

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