S y d n e y T r a d s

Weblog of the Sydney Traditionalist Forum

Thinking Right About Pop Culture: Dolly Parton – The Seeker

What follows are programme notes for the “Conservative Song” segment of Radio Carpe Diem compiled by Dominik Giemza. The notes were produced for a broadcast of Monday, 8 November 2010, and form the basis of a live on-air discussion about conservative and traditionalist themes that can be inferred from items of popular music. Radio Carpe Diem is Australia’s only paleoconservative and traditionalist radio programme and can be accessed online or free to air at 88.9FM at 8:00pm to 10:00pm Mondays (Sydney, Australia). Readers’ comments are welcome here at SydneyTrads. Listeners are encouraged to tune in and engage in the discussion.

Filling that Void

dolly parton the seeker we used toLast week we heard of a number of western women that have converted to Islam, relinquishing their emancipation for the filling of a spiritual void. This week we will hear a song by the Queen of Country, the wealthiest and most successful US female country music star and of how she deals with that spiritual void with her classic song “The Seeker,” the conservative song of the week.

Background

“The Seeker” is a song by Dolly Parton, which served as one of the title songs to Parton’s 1975 album “Dolly: The Seeker/We Used To” and was also a top ten single on the U.S. country charts. A spiritual song, which Parton described as her “talk with God”, was released as a single in July 1975, just missing the top spot on the U.S. country singles chart. It peaked at #2.

Dolly Rebecca Parton was born 19 January 1946 the fourth youngest of 12 children. She grew up in a one room shack in Locust Ridge Tennessee. You couldn’t make up a name like that. She has been married since 1966 to Carl Thomas Dean, an asphalt paving contractor (whom she apparently met at the “Wishy Washy Launderette” in Nashville). Although she has no children of her own she has fostered her younger siblings and also adopted a family friend’s son. He private life is just that – private so we don’t hear too much about these personal details.

What we do hear about is her charity work which includes her literacy program, “Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library”, a part of the Dollywood Foundation, which mails one book per month to each enrolled child from the time of their birth until they enter kindergarten. It began in her home county in Tennessee but has now been replicated across thirty-six U.S. states (as well as in Canada and the United Kingdom). The program distributes more than 2.5 million free books to children annually.

She has also invested heavily in depressed areas in her home state of Tennessee including the Dollywood theme park which is apparently the 24th most popular theme park in the USA.

Notes for the Discussion

The song is sung from the perspective of a needy woman that needs spiritual guidance and most of all leadership, in the Christian faith and in God. It is important that without this guidance she is “a vessel empty and useless” something without moral compass “a bad seed that fell by the way.” It’s easy to do wrong when one does not know what is right and what is wrong, when there is no cultural and moral signifier that influences the choices you must make in life. You really end up empty and more likely than not a bad seed.

The third line with its reference to “There is no weaker than I”, I think means more than just human frailty but is also a reference to the woman as the weaker sex, a theme that carries on in the plea to be in “the shelter of your care each day.” It’s like a paternal figure making the spiritual and moral environment safe for this woman. These themes are interspersed with requests to “lead me” and “show me the way.” This song clearly delineates between those that are guided by faith and those that do the guiding. There is no discourse here, no dialogue, only a revelation that goes from the deity to the believer and not vice versa.

One gets the impression that the leadership required here is of the paternal kind. What she needs is a religious experience that is strong, that is confident in itself, which draws the boundaries between right and wrong, that gives people a distinct spiritual choice as to the path they should take. This is not a feminized, relativist weak faith that is tolerant of competing ‘truths’ but a strong faith that knows what it is and where it wants to take you. No wonder 30 years of feminism has been trying to chip away at these qualities, to replace them with post modern sentimentality – something which can never fill the spiritual void. No wonder Western European women are prepared to trade their emancipation and their cultural heritage for another now stronger faith that is still all these things and more and which fills that void in a way the material post modern world cant.

But at least in deepest darkest Tennessee, those Appalachian hillbillies so derided by the chattering classes still believe in a Christianity that stands for something.

Lyrics

I am a seeker,
A poor sinful creature,
There is no weaker than I am,
I am a seeker,
You are a teacher,
You are a reacher,
So reach down,
Wont you reach out and lead me,
Guide me and keep me,
In the shelter of your care each day,
Cause I am a seeker,
You are a keeper,
You are the leader,
Wont you show me the way.

I am a vessel that’s empty and useless,
I am a bad seed that fell by the way,
I am a loser that wants to be a winner,
And you are my last hope,
Don’t turn me away.

Chorus:

I am a seeker,
A poor sinful creature,
There is no weaker than I am,
I am a seeker,
You are a teacher,
You are a reacher,
So reach down,
Wont you reach out and lead me,
Guide me and keep me, lord,
In the shelter of your care each day,
Cause I am a seeker,
You are a keeper,
You are the leader,
Wont you show me the way.

Oh, I know you are a mountain,
From which there flows a fountain,
So let it’s water wash my sins away,
Cause I am a seeker,
You are a keeper,
You are the leader,
Wont you show me the way.

– Dominik Giemza

The writer is a legal practitioner and the co-host of Carpe Diem Radio’s regular segment: the “Conservative Song” . The above notes were drafted for a live and on air debate about conservative and traditionalist themes which can be found in popular music. Listeners can access Radio Carpe Diem either on air at 2RSR 88.9FM in the greater Sydney region, each Monday between 8:00pm and 10:00pm, or streaming live via TuneIn.com. Feedback is welcome.

SydneyTrads is the internet portal and communication page of the Sydney Traditionalist Forum: an association of young professionals who form part of the Australian paleoconservative, traditionalist conservative, and independent right.
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