Big Hair, Honky Tonk Angels and ‘Silver Threads & Golden Needles’

Really enjoyed my foray back into blogging earlier on this week, but I’m conscious of the fact it’s been a fair while since I posted anything jolly or upbeat around here. Someone who never fails to bring a bit of sunshine and positivity into the world is the lady shown below, and by a quirk of fate, she came into my life twice this week.

Dolly Parton with her signature ‘big hair’ in the 1970s

I don’t think this is something my male readership will understand, but my female readership definitely will. When your hair is proving troublesome and you can’t do a thing with it, your confidence takes a bit of a hit, and you feel a bit blah. Mr WIAA now has very little hair left on the top of his head at all, but a short crop is perfectly normal for a man of his age and I think it suits him. Unbeknownst to me until recently, a woman’s hair changes texture as they age – It can go grey and coarse, or become fine and baby soft. I seem to have fallen into the latter camp and it’s driving me mad. At times I just want to shave it all off and go down the Dolly route, and have a big blousy wig cantilevered onto the top of my head – It didn’t take long to find a fair few pictures of her many looks from over the years.

The picture above was from that era in the early 1970s when we first got to know about her over here in the UK. Her song Jolene did really well on our Singles Chart reaching the No. 7 spot in 1973. Back then, country music and big hair seemed to go hand in hand, and as the genre grew in popularity, we were treated to many other highly coiffed ladies of the country persuasion peppering our charts. Sadly, for mere mortals like us, the big, blousy, blonde wig is a non-starter – There would be ‘looks’ in the supermarket, it would blow off when out on a hill walk and I imagine your cranium would get very hot indeed.

The Judds, Tammy Wynette and Reba McEntire (not how we spell it around here!)

I don’t have much country in my digital library, but here is a song recorded by Dolly and two of her pals in 1993, Silver Threads and Golden Needles. Big hair had kind of had it’s day by the early nineties but it seems Dolly, Tammy and Loretta didn’t get that memo. The song, written by Dick Reynolds and Jack Rhodes, was first recorded by Wanda Jackson in 1956. It has since been recorded by just about everyone, but one of the better known versions came from Linda Ronstadt who included it on her debut album (back when the Eagles were her backing band).

Silver Threads and Golden Needles by Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette and Loretta Lynn:


Not being an expert in country music, I didn’t quite get the significance of all the visitors the Honky Tonk Angels had to their dressing room in this clip, but some of the names certainly were familiar. I hope this list is accurate and complete (please put me right if it’s not), but it seems the following stars of country were all more than happy to put in a cameo appearance on the day of filming. Just shows the power and influence those three queens of country had. They are: Chet Atkins, Carl Perkins, Little Jimmy Dickens, Confederate Railroad, Ricky Skaggs, Tom Wopat, Bill Anderson, Grandpa Jones, Ronnie Milsap, Marty Stuart, Doug Stone, Rodney Crowell, Diamond Rio, Sammy Kershaw, Bill Monroe, George Lindsey, Charlie Chase, and Ralph Emery.

I did say that Dolly had come into my life twice this week but I now realise this will have to be a two-parter (a two-Parton) as I’ve already reached my wordcount. Having read a fair bit about her over the last few days I have an even greater admiration for her than I already had. She’s not for everyone, but I love how she always pokes fun at her looks, and doesn’t take herself too seriously. As a musician she has won just about every award going but she is also an incredibly successful businesswoman and humanitarian. The day she came into the world certainly was a good one for the employment prospects of those living in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Before I go, here is a little montage of some of the other big-haired musicians I found when bemoaning the current state of my own locks. Who have I missed? Feel free to visit the comments boxes with your own favourite lions and lionesses of music.

Until next time…

Silver Threads And Golden Needles Lyrics
(Song by Dick Reynolds/Jack Rhodes)

I don’t want your lonely mansion with a tear in every room
All I want’s the love you promised beneath the haloed moon
But you think I should be happy with your money and your name
And hide myself in sorrow while you play your cheating game

Silver threads and golden needles cannot mend this heart of mine
And I dare not drown my sorrows in the warm glow of your wine
You can’t buy my love with money cause I never was that kind
Silver threads and golden needles cannot mend this heart of mine

Silver threads and golden needles cannot mend this heart of mine
And I dare not drown my sorrows in the warm glow of your wine
You can’t buy my love with money cause I never was that kind
Silver threads and golden needles cannot mend this heart of mine

Silver threads and golden needles cannot mend this heart of mine

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

23 thoughts on “Big Hair, Honky Tonk Angels and ‘Silver Threads & Golden Needles’”

    1. Mick Jagger, Marc Bolan, Lynchie – Some of the men in Marsha’s life. You’ve told that story on one of the blogs once before but feel free to recount it again as I’m sure there are plenty of us who would love to hear it.

      She did have spectacular hair back then and was the poster girl for the stage musical Hair – Makes sense. The picture taken for it was by Justin Villeneuve apparently, the man who also made Twiggy famous. An amazing time for our country when our fashion, photography, art, music and film was known all over the world.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Alyson – I think you’re maybe mixing it up with my encounter with Jerry Hall. Another of my encounters with female stars was with Sonja Kristina – vocalist with the 70’s prog rock band Curved Air. But that’s a story for another day. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Maybe – You’ve treated us to a few of your celebrity encounters over the years (you knew a musician friend of Elton John?) so I get lost. So many glamourous women Lynchie!

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    1. She certainly is really good. In fact she will probably go down in history as being one of the most successful artists of all time – She started at age 7 and is now 75 so a spectacular career. She has apparently written over 3000 songs and I imagine she is known in every corner of the world.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I’d heard of it but have just listened to the first episode and read the premise for it. What a great idea for a podcast and thoroughly deserving of the awards it’s received. I love how people who dismiss Dolly because of the whole hair and image thing are won round in no time when they meet her an hear her speak. A very intelligent woman full of “horse-sense” as she calls it. Think I’m just that little bit more in love with her than I was before.

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  1. Lovely post, Alyson and you’re right about Dolly – she definitely brings a smile. As well as her crystal pure voice she comes across so well in everything I’ve seen or read about her. And who can forget her fantastic Glastonbury set from 2014?!
    Big-hair-wise I would of course like to add Siouxsie Sioux circa 1981 with her long, black, back-combed spikes…
    And, as you know, I share the hair concerns – as if mine wasn’t already fine enough to start with it seems to have turned to gossamer almost overnight! Nobody told us that would happen… and indeed it knocks the confidence. I think I’ll just have to try and draw the focus to other things – clothes, make-up, smile, boots! But have often thought it would be so much fun to wear a wig, just think of all the options and different persona one could try – all the colours too – I wonder if it changes how you feel inside too, like having an alter-ego. A Dolly one might be a bit OTT (a bit?!) but I wouldn’t mind a short thick shiny bob.

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    1. I don’t know if it’s because she was born into a large ‘dirt poor’ family or what, but I’ve never seen Dolly being anything other than a little ray of sunshine – It’s as if she feels she owes it to her fans to always be grateful, upbeat and positive. She would also never, ever be seen without full Dolly hair and make-up – She has an emergency wig and make-up kit in the event of a fire or earthquake apparently. Crikey, was Glastonbury 2014 – I remember it well and was blown away by her. I also thought she must have some really good undergarments as her trousers hung just beautifully with not a VPL in sight!

      Siouxsie, of course – She did have amazing hair back then. Those of us with fine hair really struggled back then – The student boyfriend had some good friends who were in punk bands and if we ever met up with them and their girlfriends, I felt follically embarrassed as they all had spectacular hair. One girl was a lawyer by day but by night she totally transformed and looked fantastic.

      We’re still dealing with a global pandemic but we’re both more concerned with our gossamer fine hair! I attempted to go for a short bob thinking it would make it look thicker – Big mistake! It’s now just a short thin bob as opposed to an average length thin bob. I will let it grow again. I too have always thought the fall-back position could be having fun with a wig – Sadly I seem to now get an itchy head whenever I wear my hat so can only imagine what a wig would be like. Don’t know how Dolly does it but I suppose she’s had decades to get used to it and must have the best quality wigs imaginable. I always remember watching telly with my mum, who was similarly follically challenged, and she always commented on how lucky ladies like Dolly were having such ‘good’ hair. She had no idea.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Dolly is a total legend.Hope Jolene and Coat of Many Colours are in your digital library.
      For big hair I give you A Flock of Seagulls who I recently featured.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. She really is a legend. I do have Jolene but I’ve shared it around here before in another post. I’m ashamed to admit I don’t have Coat of Many Colours so will have to right that wrong.

        Good call on A Flock of Seagulls – The ’80s gave us many memorable haircuts but Mike Score sported one of the best. I see he now has no hair!

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  2. Great post Alyson (as you can see by the number of comments). My wife & I were unpacking our Christmas decorations and listening to our Christmas Playlist when we heard “Hard Candy Christmas” by Dolly. Such a distinctive voice when she sings solo. Compare that to “Telling Me Lies” from the Trio album with Linda R and Emmylou H. I love this Linda Thompson song. Here Dolly’s voice doesn’t dominate but the harmonies are delicious.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My return to blogging has served me well. Spirits raised no end having delved into ‘Dolly World’ this weekend. This post was meant to be about artists with big hair, but it has become mainly about Dolly herself and my admiration for her has increased tenfold.

      You’re well ahead of us with your Christmas prep but listening to a themed playlist while you do it will get you in the spirit. Hadn’t heard of Hard Candy Christmas before but classic Dolly – Such a distinctive voice as you say. Thanks for the heads up about her collaboration with another two talented ladies for Trio. Telling Me Lies is certainly beautiful and as you say the harmonies are delicious. I still have my second Dolly post to write, as she was very much part of my first time out at the theatre in a long time last week. Hope I can do her justice.

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