“This is Dolly Parton’s uncle,” comes the announcement. Dolly Parton’s uncle walks on to the stage.

He does not look much like Dolly Parton, but I take his ‘uncle’ claim at face value, as everybody else in the band is a relative of Dolly Parton as well, and they are playing at Dollywood, the theme park owned by Dolly Parton (nb the name comes from taking ‘Hollywood’ and replacing the first bit with ‘Dolly’ as in ‘Dolly Parton’.)

“Good morning,” says Dolly Parton’s uncle.

The band plays some hits by Dolly Parton. They are very good, and the main vocalist – Dolly Parton’s first cousin – has a startlingly similar voice to the star herself. It does make you realise what a brilliant songwriter Dolly Parton is – and that she most definitely knows her way around a good pop tune.

There is an intermission, whilst Dolly Parton’s uncle talks about his charity, dedicated to restoring the prominence of the original American chestnut tree. Apparently, the Chinese chestnut tree was brought over to the country some years back, carrying with it some sort of tree germs that started killing the native population. The crowd grows angry at this news, everybody looking round the audience to see if there are any Chinese people there to raise this issue with. But there is happy news, in that scientists have worked out a way of saving the American tree. This mollifies the audience, and the music is resumed with a new song, written by Dolly Parton and Dolly Parton’s uncle, about the chestnut tree.

It goes:

‘Oh chestnut tree,

Oh chestnut tree,

How lovely are your branches’

It is one of those great songs where immediately you feel a huge familiarity with the melody, and thus will probably last for centuries. The band finishes with that song that Whitney Houston did about always loving you, and ‘9-5’ which, let’s face it, are two of the best pop songs ever written, ever.

The band exits the stage to much deserved applause. The Toddler wants to play on the roundabout with large plastic ducks.

27 thoughts on “I see Dolly Parton’s uncle.

  1. JonnyB says:

    Market research: I have dropped the ‘Across Tennessee. By Kia’ series branding. Did it make any difference to anybody’s enjoyment of the post?

  2. Richard says:

    No,I can’t say I noticed. However it does seem to have induced your first ever typo. I’m not telling, look hard an you’ll find it.

  3. Richard says:

    Unless of course it was deliberate and I skipped over the gaping pit of irony without realising

  4. Yes, such easily-manipulated xenophobes, those Americans, aren’t they? Always oblivious in their comfortable cloud of stereotype and assumed superiority, so unlike us thirty-something middle-class Brits!

    Still, glad you extracted the maximum ironic enjoyment from the trip, seeing as the resulting credit card bill will be dead-pan serious, with extra zeroes…

  5. Megan says:

    Did they, in this excellent song, give any vital clues to identifying American vs Chinese chestnuts? I was not previously aware of the crisis but am now deeply committed to the cause and wish to do my part. Mostly that is going to consist of either kicking the Chinese trees viciously or just standing around and judging them harshly depending on which shoes I’m wearing at the time. Either option however depends rather vitally on being able to tell just which tree is which as I would hate to traumatize the American ones what with their already being threatened and stuff.

    Of course, where I live we grow nothing but Michelob bottles and used condoms so possibly arboreal identification is not the most pressing issue…

  6. JonnyB says:

    Christ alive, Richard – – – this is becoming a regular thing. Thanks – corrected.

    Megan – I believe the Chinese ones are standing healthily in the forests, whilst you can identify the American ones by the fact that most of them are dead. But never fear – all is well now.

  7. Z says:

    Where do horse chestnuts come from? I don’t mean from conkers, obviously, but from which country. I’m wondering if they are good chestnuts or bad chestnuts.

    Maybe the Americans could infiltrate China with their diseased trees and get revenge.

  8. guyana gyal says:

    Shucks, I thought Ivan’s an American, then he said, “those Americans.”

    But I can see JonnyB’s getting quite Americanised with his market research, branding and all. I didn’t notice you’d dropped the Tennessee title. And if you’re fishing for complements, no, it hasn’t changed my enjoyment of this post…and I must add, ‘enjoyment’ is a ‘leading’ word.

  9. JoAnne says:

    I had rather hoped that ‘I see Dolly Parton’s uncle’ would turn out to be some obscure British euphemism. But no.

  10. agrajjag says:

    wait, how much is an unlaiden chinese chestnut?

  11. An American, Guyana Gyal? An American??? [Stressed as in “A haaaandbaaag?”]

    No. Not American. Glad we had this little chat.

  12. Debster says:

    Z – I think they came from eastern Europe originally.

  13. Linda says:

    The American chestnut tree was amazing. In old photos they are huge, towering over people standing below.
    And, you were in the South. Everyone is related to everyone else there if you catch my drift. I’m Southern so I am probably Dolly’s cousin too.

  14. JonnyB says:

    Can you sing, Linda? We could start a band…

  15. Pat says:

    Don’t worry Ivan – I shall carry our secrets to the grave.

    Jonny it’s not surprising DP’s uncle doesn’t resemble DP considering DP didn’t look like DP

  16. Bob says:

    Have we all lost perspective! Chinese chestnuts are overrunning the hills of Tennessee!!! Folks, where’s the outrage?

  17. spazmo says:

    Pity you didn’t stay for the encore. It goes:
    Don’t sit under the chestnut tree,
    with anyone else but me…
    Ect, ect, ect.

  18. I was shocked and appalled by the dropping of the title. You’ve ruined everything now.

  19. ajb1605 says:

    Z – surely they come from Horsetralia?

    (I’ll get me coat!)

  20. Sylvia says:

    Any other Australians around will know one of our fave songs: “Kookaburra Sits in an Old Chestnut Tree”

    One of the lines is “Laugh kookaburra, laugh kookaburra.”
    Having a good chance of a laugh is why I come back here……..

  21. Chubby Zebra says:

    Sylvia: Doubt the gaiety of the kookaburra’s life if it were sitting in a dying American tree.

    Anyway, don’t judge the Chinese chestnut trees too harshly please. They’re probably just trying to escape the one-child policy and to achieve the great American dream.

  22. guyana gyal says:

    And here I was thinking that the kookburra was sitting in an old, dumb tree!

  23. Miss Nomer says:

    Well, you know Johnny, I can live without the branding if it’s all too much for you . . . but . . . why start something only to stop it a short while later? You’re not turning into an Ivan wannabee or somesuch are you?

  24. Strop says:

    Up here in Yorkshire schools, I was taught that the kookaburra lived in an old oak tree. Possibly because ‘eucalytus’ doesn’t scan.

  25. Sylvia says:

    OK OK

    “Kookaburra sits in an old gum tree
    Merry merry king of the bush is he
    Laugh Kookaburra, laugh Kookaburra
    Gay your life must be……..

    I think this is how we sang it as kids…

    (A gum tree is another name for eucalypus tree.)

    Now another song Aussies sing is:

    “Give me a home among the chestnut trees…….”

  26. Did the toddler play with large plastic ducks on a roundabout, or did she play on a roundabout, which happened to also feature large plastic ducks?

    I’m not sure why I feel the need to know this. But apparently I do.

  27. Sam says:

    I don’t think Dolly Parton looks like Dolly Parton anymore.

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