Good golly, Ms Dolly...

I wasn’t at Glastonbury, can you tell? I have no crown of flowers, no newfound lifelong friendship with a man called Cosmo who I met in a tree, and I have only been sleeping on the floor for the benefit of my back.

I’ll probably never go to Glastonbury, I’ve now been forced to realise, or at least not until I have three children and a camper van (“so nobody can stop you going to bed at 11pm! Well, except the children,” as my boyfriend put it) plus the means to casually spend £200+ on a holiday that leaves you more knackered than you were when you went*.

But if ever I were to go to Glastonbury, it should have been this year. For Dolly. If the queen of country can pull on her whitest rhinestoned pantsuit and get down and dirty in the mud (ok, near the mud) then in hindsight I probably could have sucked it up, bought an industrial-sized bottle of antibac gel and joined her. 

I certainly would have looked more at home weeping along to Here You Come Again in the middle of the swaying crowd at Worthy Farm than I did just now, alone with iPlayer in my bedroom, cry-singing it to Mabel, my disembodied mannequin hat stand. But the truth is Dolly transcends location. The “dirt poor” farmer’s daughter with 11 siblings from the Smoky Tennessee Mountains whose talent can inspire, let’s say, a simple girl from Sussex to follow her dreams all the way to the big city. By which I mean finding a hairdresser who understands the exact shade of blonde highlights I’ve always wanted.

It’s funny that in recent years, the acts attracting the most love at Glastonbury have been so gleefully un-rock and roll. Beyoncé in gold sequins, Stevie Wonder singing Happy Birthday, The English National Ballet’s tribute to the first world war…. and Dolly, a tiny lady with a voice as big as her heart. 

And I’ll have none of this miming nonsense, thank you. When I saw her at the O2 in 2011, her astoundingly pure 65-year-old voice filled the arena with ease for two hours. We danced, we swayed, we laughed, we cried. The souvenir tea towel I bought that night is still among the top three tea towels in my (extensive) collection.

Plus, even rarer among modern artists, Dolly gives between-song chat as great as the music itself - from her famous anecdote about the real ‘Jolene’ to quips about modelling her appearance after “the town tramp”, she never misses an opportunity to display the wit and warmth beneath the wig and rhinestones.  While she’s always joyfully upfront about her penchant for surgical enhancement, Dolly knows how to keep it real.

 

*It’s the ultimate modern luxury, in a way, splurging on weekend breaks that are going to leave you tireder, grumpier, dirtier and probably more in need of another holiday. Give me a festival with a breakfast buffet, several rooftop tours of cathedrals and the chance to sit down and have an ice cream every 20 minutes and we might have a deal.

In which things go off the chart

Distressing news this week, that Juicy Couture – purveyors of the tracksuits we’d previously thought were the 21st century’s biggest battle between comfort and aesthetics, until adults started wearing babygros – is closing all its US stores. You can almost hear velour fans everywhere wailing in anguish. Listen very carefully; it’s quite muffled. 

But we’ll cope without Juicy, because in exchange we are getting back another vestige of the olden days. The pop charts are going to matter again.

The music industry having finally caught up with the internet, online streaming via services such as Spotify will count towards the UK singles charts for the first time from next month. Whether it’s a wise move for the future of the industry or another way to fiddle artists our of their income (or both) remains to be seen, but it’s safe to say it’ll diversify the Top 40 for the better.  

I say that as someone who has, I’ve just discovered, basically no idea what is in the Top 40. “Let’s see how many artists we can guess from this week’s chart,” I announce to my boyfriend, and we set about making a list.

I kick things off with One Direction. Obviously One Direction will be in the charts. In fact the chart is probably at least a third One Direction these days, I reason, because when we unwittingly got on a sweaty Metropolitan Line tube coming from Wembley the other Saturday night, it contained more frenzied pre-teen girls with ‘1D’ written in biro on their foreheads than I thought were left of the entire music-buying public.

“Lana Del Ray,” says my boyfriend, because he has seen her on a poster recently.

“Paloma Faith,” I say. I know she has a single out because Radio 2 plays it once every four minutes. Likewise Sam Smith, who is nothing to do with the cheap pubs (I checked).

“Um. Rihanna?” he ventures, and I laugh in a patronising fashion before sheepishly writing down, “Coldplay.”

“Do Mumford and Sons have an album out?”

“No. Don’t be silly.”

“Is there a band that sounds a bit like Mumford and Sons who has an album out?”

I write it down. 

Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry go on the list for good measure. By the time we reach Gary Barlow, it is clear that we have exhausted our knowledge of current music – not as people who listen to obscure bands that haven’t got famous yet, but as people who most recently listened to a self-compiled playlist called ‘Whistling’, made up of songs that all have whistling in them (it has Colonel Bogey and two different versions of Mr Bojangles on it – and yes, it is awesome).

 I check the Top 40 to see how many we’ve guessed right. Four.

Now it seems our options are either to make some effort and re-familiarise ourselves with the hit parade, or give up and see how many repeat plays it takes to get Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard back in the charts instead. Here’s to the democracy of the internet.