Sweden goes Dolly Parton crazy

Ever since it was announced that a certain female country singer would be performing in Sweden for the first time since 1978, the country has whipped itself up into a Dolly Parton frenzy.

When the tickets were released – for three concerts, at ice hockey arenas in Karlstad, Gothenburg and Stockholm – they were snapped up quicker than it takes to reflect on how Parton managed to shed the grossly inaccurate “dumb blonde” tag and become an Honorary Citizen of Piteå.

For the love affair between Parton and Sweden has not always existed.

Magnus Eriksson, a journalist at Svenska Dagbladet, recalls some of the attitudes that prevailed thirty years ago.

“Last time she was here, in 1978, there were not many of us at Olympen in Lund. Back then her audience consisted solely of country music fans.

“In the rock world she was considered opium for the people. Country music was thought to be frightfully conservative, and rock fans and feminists were horrified by Dolly Parton’s appearance.

“A woman with any sort of awareness just could not look like that. Rather than wearing Palestinian scarves and pointy boots, she was challengingly sexy and vulgar,” wrote Eriksson.

But while Dolly Parton has retained the elements that made her such a success, Sweden slowly underwent a transformation.

The metamorphosis was complete in August 2006 when the northern town of Piteå added Dolly Parton to its list of Honorary Citizens.

“She is someone who is very concerned with her home city, and proud of where she comes from,” Gerd Sävenstedt, spokeswoman for Piteå council, told The Local at the time.

On Sunday, the native of the Great Smokey Mountains graced the stage in Karlstad. On Tuesday, it was Gothenburg’s turn, and Friday sees Parton return to Stockholm.

What a difference thirty years make. Everywhere there is talk of “Dolly”. Some of the papers have even put together guides for anyone planning to hold a “Dolly Party” in her honour.

Some of those who missed out on tickets to Globen in Stockholm can seek solace in Heartbreak Express – A Tribute to Dolly Parton at Debaser Medis in Stockholm, where Swedish singers such as Nina Persson, Titiyo and Robyn will attempt to do justice to their hero.

But don’t bother going if you haven’t already got a ticket: it’s sold out too.