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Dolly Parton, ‘Dream More’ Book Steers Clear of Advice

G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Dolly Parton‘s latest book, “Dream More: Celebrate the Dreamer in You,” was inspired by the 2009 commencement address the superstar entertainer gave at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. But what she offered graduating students at the time — and what she offers in the book, she says — isn’t advice.

“I might give you some information,” Dolly tells the Tennessean. “I often want to say, ‘Hell, I don’t know what you should do. I’ve got [stuff] to figure out in my own life.'”

What “Dream More” is, then, is a collection of stories from the singer-songwriter-actress-philanthropist’s incredible life, along with information she deems important to her own well-being.

With the phenomenal success she’s enjoyed since the mid-1960s, it’s easy to forget that Dolly rose from an impoverished childhood and moved to Nashville just after graduating from high school. She struggled through those early days in Music City before stardom took hold, and admits that she found unique ways to keep from going hungry — by scoping out area motels and hotels and sampling uneaten room-service meals.

“Some people left a lot of good stuff,” she says. “They’d leave half a hamburger, or they’d leave bananas or whatever else. If you’re hungry, you do what you’ve got to do.”

She also found more legitimate ways to keep herself fed. “I used to go to Couser’s restaurant on Nolensville Road [in south Nashville], and say, ‘I’ll clean these tables and keep the mustard and ketchup done up if you’ll feel me a hot meal,'” Dolly notes. “I got to be friends with those people, and then I’d bring my guitar and entertain them in between meal times.”

And although she’s reluctant to consider “Dream More” a book of her best advice, she can’t help but dispense a little bit of the homegrown wisdom for which she’s become well-known.

“I look back on it, and it could have gone as terribly wrong as it’s gone terribly right,” the 66-year-old explains. “I don’t think you ever really know what all you’re doing, so you have to act on faith. I’m sure I’ve made a lot of crazy moves, but I tried to do what was right. I just felt my way through.”

Watch Dolly on Her Early Days in Nashville

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