Why Dolly Parton Eventually Let ‘Pam & Tommy’ Use One of Her Iconic Songs

by Samantha Whidden
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Following the finale of Hulu’s miniseries, Pam and Tommy, the show’s production staff recalled that it took some time to convince country music icon Dolly Parton to allow them to use a hit song of hers.

During an interview with IndieWire, Pam and Tommy music supervisor, Amanda Thomas, says it was difficult to get permission from Dolly Parton to use I Will Always Love You in the miniseries. “Dolly Parton’s I Will Always Love You was scripted from the very beginning. The Bee Gees and Dolly Parton can both be really difficult artists to clear. And certainly not the least expensive artist here. By the time we got to those episodes those two-needle drops were critically important for our show.”

Thomas notes that initially, Dolly Parton denied Pam and Tommy to use the song. “She’s certainly very open to things. She’s open for the right things. We went back and we recontextualized the whole thing. And we’re like, “Here’s the story we’re trying to tell. We are telling this narrative from Pamela’s perspective. As someone who got the short end of the stick. And was not done well by the men in her life.” 

Thomas stated that the song really speaks on the relationship between Pam and Tommy in a cool way. “When it was initially denied and I told the team, I was like, ‘We’re going back for it.’ And then when it cleared, Rob was texting me like, “I heard Dolly cleared?’ And I was like, ‘Yes, she approved.’”

‘Pam and Tommy’ Music Supervisor Reveals What the Process on Hard Sell for Dolly Parton’s Song Was Like 

As she continued chatting with IndieWire, Pam and Tommy music supervisor Amanda Thomas revealed what the process on hard sell for Dolly Parton’s song was like. “It’s a lot of emails. And sometimes it’s on the phone. I’m often dealing with my contacts at the publisher or the label. So I am putting together a sales pitch on my side. We did send the clip for Dolly. It’s mostly the epilogue, but they asked to see the scene.”

Thomas goes on to share that in the scene, Pam is seen in the tattoo shop and the baby is next to her. She was changing the tattoo to Mommy. “Even though the song isn’t playing during that part, let’s include that as a lead-in so you can clearly communicate tone. When something’s denied, we’re always like, ‘Is there a reason? Did they communicate a reason why?’Maybe it’s because they’re misinterpreting what the project is.”

In regards to what song was refused, Thomas added, “It was a tough moment for me. But we really wanted to use Common People by Pulp in the first episode. And there was one member fo the band who just didn’t want to be involved. And we tried everything.”

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