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Just Because I'm a Woman

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Album Review

Just Because I'm a Woman was Dolly Parton's first album for RCA Victor after a few modest hits for Monument and (more importantly) becoming a regular on Porter Wagoner's television show and his frequent duet partner both on-stage and in the studio. One might have figured that, between Chet Atkins' trademark "countrypolitan" production style and Wagoner's influence, Parton's musical personality would be lost in the shuffle, but thankfully quite the opposite was true — Just Because I'm a Woman turned out to be one of Parton's best early albums, and a superb showcase for her gifts as both a singer and songwriter. Bob Ferguson, Atkins' second-in-command at RCA, took a subdued and natural approach to the production, with a refined but organic honky tonk sound dominating many of the arrangements, though he knew when to take a more ambitious approach on the dark tale of adultery and abandonment "The Bridge." And while Dolly only gets songwriting credit on four of the album's 12 songs, they're four of the real standouts, including "You're Gonna Be Sorry," "The Bridge," and the title tune, with the rest of the selections fitting Parton's trademark blend of fragility and strength just right, and her versatile soprano voice displaying the confidence, power, and emotional range that would make her a country superstar within a few years. While Parton was not always well served by the Nashville music factories (ironically enough, this became an even bigger problem for her after she crossed over to mainstream stardom), Just Because I'm a Woman was one of those rare examples of the bigwigs getting it right the first time out, and the album still sounds like a winner more than 35 years after its initial release. [BMG Heritage's 2003 CD reissue tacks on two fine bonus tracks, outtakes from the April 1970 concert that was taped for the live album A Real Live Dolly, including a lovely solo acoustic performance of "Coat of Many Colors."]


Born: January 19, 1946 in Locust Ridge, TN

Genre: Country

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

It's difficult to find a country performer who has moved from her country roots to international fame more successfully than Dolly Parton. Her autobiographical single "Coat of Many Colors" shows the poverty of growing up one of 12 children on a rundown farm in Locust Ridge, Tennessee. At 12 years old, she was appearing on Knoxville television; at 13 she was recording on a small label and appearing on the Grand Ole Opry. Her 1967 hit "Dumb Blonde" (which she's not) caught Porter Wagoner's ear, and...
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