When Dolly Parton was approached by Jennifer Aniston’s team to use her music for the upcoming film Dumplin’, which is based on a story inspired by the country music legend herself, she thought she was just giving permission for the film to use some of her songs. Instead, Parton found herself teamed up with Linda Perry to pen six original songs for the coming-of-age tale.
“When we got together to write a theme song, lordy, songs just kept coming out of us,” Parton told a small audience at a film industry lunch on Monday.
Perry, who joined her on stage, added that Parton had told her, “You’re quirky, I like you, I like weird people.”
Parton and Perry debuted the theme song for the film, an empowering anthem about wanting to be as courageous and free as “the girl in the movies.” Dumplin,’ based on Julie Murphy’s 2015 novel of the same name, follows the plus-sized teenager Willowdean Dickson (Danielle Macdonald) as she tries to find her own voice within a small town where many of the young women aspire to become beauty pageant winners, just like Willowdean’s mother Rose, played by Jennifer Aniston.
The Netflix film, centered on its young lead, follows her female friendships and has inspiring messages about body positivity and acceptance, all through Willowdean’s love of Dolly Parton’s music and unapologetic, resilient, and often humorous outlook on life. It will be released in theaters and on Netflix on Dec. 7.
The film is female-driven on and off screen, with Kristin Hahn adapting the screenplay and Anne Fletcher directing. Last month, Parton unveiled a new rendition of “Here I Am” as the lead single of the film’s upcoming soundtrack, recorded with Sia. The soundtrack will also include newly-recorded collaborations of some of Parton’s classic hits with the likes of Miranda Lambert, Mavis Staples, Elle King, Alison Krauss, Miley Cyrus, Rhonda Vincent as well as the film’s stars, Aniston and Macdonald.
Parton said Perry was the first female producer she’s ever worked with in her life, and in three days they had written, composed, and recorded all six original songs.
“I really connected with her musically because I have a raw feeling about me and my growing up and the way that I see music, and sometimes it doesn’t always show — you kind of lose things through the years or trying to be commercial or be too sleek for this event — but when I met Linda, we started writing these songs and it felt so real to me, so raw,” Parton said of the 4 Non Blondes frontwoman.
Perry added, “We’re funny together because she doesn’t want to stop and I don’t stop. I’ll go, ‘Are you tired yet?’ and she’s like, ‘I’m not stopping until you stop,’ and I’m like, ‘I’m not stopping,’ so we’re not stopping.”
Speaking of not stopping, 72-year-old Parton said she has been working in Atlanta on a Netflix anthology show with songs that she has written.
‘When you enjoy what you’re doing, there’s an energy that comes from creativity,” Parton said.
Watch above to see Parton and Perry’s performance.