There are songs that are big and then there is Jolene. It’s full of heartbreak and lifeforce. Dolly Parton’s lyrics and vocals are “beyond compare”. The song just hasn’t aged since being released way back in 1973. Next gen artists keep covering it fresh. So Parton’s message went far and wide when she took her Moderna jab this week and belted out her anthemic Jolene anew: “Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, I’m begging of you, please don’t hesitate.”
The words may seem dry if you have yet to hook up with Jolene. But once you do, its swingy wistfulness, now with a pandemic vibe, will be sure to grab the guts. Of course Parton being Parton, her southern irreverence doesn’t stray far from her sublimest moments. No surprise then that she followed up the above line with, “Because once you’re dead then that’s a bit too late.” Few others would be able to carry off that bite with a melody and a laugh. Anyway, she would hardly be making light of Covid-19 after seeding a critical million dollars in the early stages of the Moderna trials.
Like India, the US has seen dangerous levels of vaccine hesitancy. Celebrities can learn from Parton how to make a difference. And everyone else take note how she went to take her shot in a vaccine-ready outfit, smart cutouts even eliminating the need to roll up her sleeve. Really, the men don’t need to be showing off their pecs or banyans.
This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Times of India.
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