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Hit-making producer Linda Perry says she knew Dolly Parton loved her when they first met to create the soundtrack for Netflix’s Dumplin‘, a result of their shared appreciation for working hard and if need be, staying in a studio all night to make movie magic (in this case, movie music magic) happen.
Handpicked by director Anne Fletcher and Jennifer Aniston, who stars in the film and exec produced via her banner Echo Films, Perry was initially tasked to create one theme song alongside Parton. Once the two got to creating, Dumplin’ would be gifted with not one but six songs — including “Girl in the Movies,” which recently received a Grammy nomination for best song written for visual media.
Perry spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the bond created between her and Parton while working on the film’s soundtrack, which began before the two even met.
“I got a call from the music supervisor, Buck Damon, and he goes ‘Hey I want to talk to you about possibly writing a song with Dolly Parton. And I said, ‘What do you mean possibly?’ He said there’s somebody else that I want to talk to but I have a feeling about you. I said, ‘If you fucking go anywhere else, I will kill you. I will track you down. I am the girl for this, hire me. I’m perfect for this.”
Just as Dumplin’s protagonist Willowdean is inspired by Parton’s confidence — so much so that she signs up for her mom’s Miss Teen Blue Bonnet pageant despite criticisms over her weight — Perry was inspired by Parton’s legacy, leading to her produce a whole album of original songs and re-recordings of Parton hits, several featuring collaborators like Sia (“Here I Am”) and Miranda Lambert (“Dumb Blonde”).
“Honestly, the movie wasn’t my inspiration,” Perry said. “Dolly Parton was my inspiration — what I want from Dolly Parton right now in 2018.”
The chemistry between Parton and Perry (a name befitting an upcoming sitcom or songwriting reality show) is particularly special due to Parton being selective over whom she collaborates with.
“I got with Linda and we just clicked like you wouldn’t believe,” Parton told THR last December. “I was very surprised because I don’t write with people. I’m very picky about that.”
Speaking on the 2020 Grammy nomination she shares with Perry for “Girl in the Movies,” Parton told THR, “I was so proud to be a part of the wonderful Dumplin’ project. Working on the soundtrack with Linda Perry is one of the highlights of my career. I loved writing songs with Linda. I am especially proud of our Grammy-nominated song ‘Girl In The Movies.'”
Perry joked the two are easily an “odd couple” side by side, with Perry’s “rolled out of bed” style next to Parton, who evokes country star “from the ground to the sky.” But appearances aside, the two are very similar in how much time and passion they’ll put into a project.
Perry remembered one night in particular when the two were at John McBride’s Blackbird Studios in Nashville, when before midnight, Parton asked, “What time you going to?”
“I’m like, ‘What time you wanna go to?’ Dolly’s like, ‘I’ll go to whenever you are going.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, I guess we’re going to be here all night.'”
Ahead of her fourth-ever Grammy nomination and Parton’s 47th, Perry summed up her time working with Parton as “just so wonderful,” noting that “any moment with Dolly is the best moment.”
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