Dolly Parton hopes this holiday season can bring some healing to the United States.
"I think we've just become so divided, 'cause people just seem to love to hate. You know? This is the Christmas season coming up. But we need to carry that Christmas spirit of peace on Earth, and loving one another. We need to carry that into the new year," Parton told Willie Geist on Sunday TODAY. "And Lord knows, I hope next year is better than this one."
"We can't save the world, but we can save the world we're living in," she added. "Maybe I'm dreaming. But I don't think so."
Parton, 74, is spreading joy this holiday season with two new projects. She's releasing Netflix musical "Dolly Parton's Christmas on the Square" and "A Holly Dolly Christmas," her first holiday album in 30 years.
"I've been wanting to do another Christmas album for a long time, and I had the time to do it, since we had kind of all holed up at home," Parton said. "So I started writing some of these original songs, and I gathered up some more of the old classics. And grabbed a bunch of friends, and we just kind of went for it."
The 12-track album includes six duets. Parton sings with Miley Cyrus on "Christmas Is," croons with Michael Bublé on "Cuddle Up, Cozy Down Christmas," and rocks out on "All I Want For Christmas Is You" with Jimmy Fallon, to name a few of the star-studded appearances.
Parton is also releasing a book on Nov. 17. "Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics" tells the stories behind the lyrics of Parton's expansive library of songs.
"Jolene," one of her most covered songs, was inspired by a "pretty girl at the bank," Parton recalled to Willie.
"My husband said he was getting a loan. You know, he was in asphalt paving. I said, 'I think you best get on back to the house or it's going to be your a-- and your fault,'" she joked.
The name Jolene came from a little girl by the same name who once asked Parton for an autograph.
"I said, 'Ooh, I love that name.' And so I just was singing, 'Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene,' so I wouldn't forget the name. Got back to my bus, and I wrote the song. And just kind of drew from all that other little stuff to go with it," she told Willie.
Parton also wrote "I Will Always Love You" within days of "Jolene." She said she still uses a cassette recorder as she writes music.
"We were looking through my files to get all of my old cassettes, and they were putting them on the hard drives, or whatever they call it, to save them. And so the guy that was doing it, he said, 'Do you realize that 'Jolene' and 'I Will Always Love You' were on the same cassette?'"
"It ain't about the money. I've often said that I count my blessings a lot more often than I count my money," she said. "I just want to be able to lift up people if I can, and do something, put some joy out there."
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