Hello Dolly!

Hello Dolly!

Remember the old Dolly Parton song “Here You Come Again?”  It was her first pop hit around the same time as “Two Doors Down”.  Anyway, as a kid I assumed when she sang “Here you come again and here I go.” it meant she went back to her former boyfriend.

Fast forward to when I’m middle aged and I hear the song again at the dentist’s office while I’m enjoying a root canal.  This time around I wonder if “and here I go” means Dolly goes away from the old flame knowing she has learned her lesson.

Hmm?  A well written song is always open to interpretation so I was curious what my ESL (English as a Second Language) students would think of it.

So in various ESL classes I was teaching at the time, I had students study the vocabulary of the song and career of Miss Parton.  (Biographies are a great way to practice pronouncing numbers like dates, quantity of records sold, and bra sizes.)

After our Dolly lesson, I would place images of Dolly with a man on one side of the room, and another image of Dolly alone at the other side and students would stand by their vote of Dolly goes back to him, or Dolly goes away from him.

It was always fascinating to see cultures from around the world choose sides.  Often Africans favored Dolly goes on alone, while Asians thought Dolly went back to him to return home.  Europeans, like in real life, were politically all over the map!

Here in San Miguel de Allende I had assumed that being a romantically inclined culture, students would have Dolly go back to him.  But only about two thirds did.  It was then a student asked “What do folks in the US think Dolly does?”  Since the song was popular when I was in 7th grade, I had no idea but I would find out!

That weekend I sent out about 60 emails asking any from the US I had an email for if they thought Dolly went back to the man or goes away from him.  By Monday morning I had nearly 100 responses!  Not only did every single person answer me back, but they forwarded the email on and those people responded too.

I had no idea Americans had such a strong emotional tie to Dolly.  People wrote about her music, acting, amusement park and philanthropy in addition to the pesky former boyfriend issue of her coming or going.

Every response of nearly 100 but 3 said Dolly went back to him!  Of the 3, two were my uber-religious brother and wife who somehow thought the song condoned pre-marital sex.  As in most matters, their opinions don’t matter.

The third was a college pal who is now a nurse.  She wrote “Dolly got tired of being beat up by him, and dumped his ass.”  Nowhere in the song does it imply physical violence.  Plus who would hit Dolly Parton?  I guess you could, and she’d topple quickly, but to what end?  It’s like hitting a newborn or a puppy, it just isn’t done.  I think my nursing pal may have been projecting some and not being a professional therapist, I didn’t purse the issue with her.

Instead, I prefer to be an optimistic American and believe Dolly goes back to her old love and lives happily ever.  Perhaps even just two doors down where rumor has it they are laughing and drinking and having a party.