Country music legend Dolly Parton teamed up with author James Patterson to write a book, Run, Rose, Run, which is at the top of the Amazon bestseller list.
Run, Rose, Run tells the story of AnnieLee Keyes, a young starry-eyed singer. and her friendship with a retired country superstar, Ruthanna Ryder. Keyes navigates the ups and downs of the music industry, dealing with shady managers and finding her voice. It also deals with workplace sexism in the music industry. This is exemplified by a radio consultant’s “salad” theory. In said theory, men are “the lettuce,” the important part, and the women are the add-ons, meant “to be sprinkled into airplay now and again as garnish.”
Parton wrote an album to accompany the book, also titled Run, Rose, Run. According to Parton, this was largely Patterson’s idea. However, Parton contributed her own experiences to help make the story feel authentic.
“He’d give me ideas for the songs. I gave him ideas that he expanded on for the characters and incorporated in the book,” she explained. “So it really was a magical team.”
Parton and Patterson met when the latter reached out to the musician. He toyed with the concept that would become Run, Rose, Run for many years. As far back as 1960s, he found himself interested in the culture behind the music industry. He and Parton met, and they hit it off right away.
“We liked each other right away,” Patterson explained. “And we kind of made the deal right there — no lawyers. We didn’t want anybody in the way. One of the similarities that Dolly and I have is we don’t work for a living. We play for a living. You don’t stop doing that. Why would you stop playing if you can, if you can do it?”
Dolly Parton Talks Real life Influences On Her Book
Additionally, the two drew heavily on Parton’s own life. Many of AnnieLee’s early struggles mirrored those of Parton in her early career.
“Oh God, I used to fight all the time with Porter Waggoner,” she says of the late singer, who died in 2007. “We were known for, you know, for our disagreements. But he gave me a big hand up and I always appreciated that. But I (also) had always wanted to be my own star, and I said that at the start. I didn’t want to be just a girl singer in somebody else’s group.”
While AnnieLee’s experiences were similar to Parton’s, she is now more similar to Ruthanna. However, the “Jolene” singer explained that she is kinder than the book’s character.
“I would never, ever tell somebody not to follow their dream,” said Parton. “I would just say, ‘If you’re dead serious about what you’re doing, you got to buckle up and take it. You’ve got to sacrifice as far as you can and compromise, but don’t ever sacrifice your soul and your principles and your values.’ That’s where Ruthanna and I differ. I would never tell a young person not to follow their dream because I would crush somebody. Even if they weren’t that talented, I wouldn’t tell them that.”
Run, Rose, Run by Dolly Parton and James Patterson is available on Amazon and other book retailers.