In the video for her new song, “World On Fire,” Dolly Parton sits atop a burning world. Blond hair piled and coiffed, her black dress glittering, she looks down into a pit of flames burning the earth. The song rocks a little harder than her usual feathery country oeuvre, and over a driving beat, she lets you know she’s about to get political.
Now I ain’t one for speaking out much
But that don’t mean I don’t stay in touch
Everybody’s trippin’ over this or that
What we gonna do when we all fall flat?
Dolly spends the next four minutes outlining the sorry state of the world, or at least the nation, punctuating it with a rousing chorus:
Liar, liar the world’s on fire
Whatcha gonna do when it all burns down?
Fire, fire burning higher
Still got time to turn it all around.
It’s difficult to say whether Dolly explicitly intended “World on Fire” as a climate song, though people are hearing it as such. But that’s how many of Dolly’s more “political” statements and artistic work come across — they tap into the zeitgeist without making any explicit political statements. Dolly is an expert at this…
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Dolly Parton sings World on Fire at the Academy of Country Music Awards (via youtube, 05-11-2023).