With a nod to the 1999 Vocal Group of the Year, she laughs, "I thought, 'We had all those Dixie Chicks and one old southern hen!'" Well, hardly. Parton was arguably the most sensational-looking woman on the 1999 CMA Awards show -- glamorous, bespangled in blue wherever just-barely- respectable flesh didn't do a better job of eye-catching, glittering from the inside out with energy and showmanship. Ever the professional, she picked the shortest song from The Grass Is Blue, "Train, Train", to perform for her induction segment. "They needed the shortest song I could get and they wanted an uptempo one and so that was the one we picked, because it moved and you know they wanted to keep the show moving." In fact the song nearly ran off with it.
"Train, Train" was an inspired choice for the CMA show, but no more so than for the album. Parton had picked the song from one of her husband's old records, the Southern rock band Blackfoot's platinum Strikes, released in 1979. The band coalesced in the early '70s around singer and guitarist Rickey Medlocke, who had recently left Lynyrd Skynyrd. Parton remembered having thought Blackfoot's hit single, "Train, Train", would make a great bluegrass number. It was one of several Parton picks that threw a curve to her producer, Steve Buckingham, and later to the copyright birddogs charged with hunting down a credit.

As of a week before the CMA awards show, Buckingham said they'd found not a single Blackfoot member, let alone the song's author, Shorty Medlock (grandfather of Blackfoot leader Rickey), to give them the name of their publishing company.
A modicum of internet savvy might have solved that problem, but the CMA performance did the trick. "I just thought Shorty Medlock was just somebody from the Blackfoot group or something," says Parton, "but I got a letter from this boy named Michael Herring and he's the grandson of Shorty Medlock and he proceeded to tell me that he and his family were so excited, they had been so thrilled when they were watching CMAs the other night and I did his grandpa's song. His grandpa's been dead for years and he was telling me all the history about Shorty Medlock and he was evidently a famous old bluegrasser.ƒUntil that moment I didn't even know that it was written by a true bluegrasser. So ain't that cool!"

Read the entire article in No Depression Magiazine
Issue #24 November - December 1999

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