I always say that in the 70s, everybody had to record a disco song or three. Dolly Parton was certainly no exception. One of my favorite of the handful of “disco Dolly” songs is “Baby, I’m Burning.” From Dolly’s 1978 album Heartbreaker, she had mainstream pop crossover success squarely in her sights. The song actually got some pretty significant play in the clubs at the time, if you can imagine that! My first exposure to the song was in 1983 when she performed it in concert on the HBO special Dolly: Live In London As I’ve said before, that HBO special was probably the root of my Dolly fandom. I recorded the entire concert on a cassette player by holding it up to the TV and shushing everyone in the room.
25 years later, when I finally saw Dolly in concert in Minneapolis, she trotted this song out again much to my great delight.
My biggest question is how did someone get this fan footage? At the two Dolly shows I went to, they were Nazis about camera use, confiscating cell phones and digital cameras left and right. Perhaps it was because the O2 in London is just a titch bigger than the Civic Center in Des Moines? Well whatever. I have to say that between the two performances, the first one is preferred – mostly because Dolly looks like a human female rather than a plastic mannequin. Whenever I see footage of that 1983 concert, I always wonder if Dolly had been touched by a surgeon’s knife yet. She looks so natural and soft. In the second clip, she is so thin and plastic.
Still, she’s Dolly. The fact that she’s Dolly makes you forgive a lot.
What I am still waiting for is a full album of dance music a la Cher’s Believe. She’s promised it – no doubt as a gift to her massive gay male fan base – but it has yet to arrive. Time’s ticking Dolly!
One of these days, I’m going to spring for one of the bootlegged DVD copies of that classic ’83 concert. Until such time, there’s always YouTube.