Recorded in December 2003 at the Celebrity Theater in Dollywood, Live and Well
captures Dolly Parton on one of the best nights of a 13-date tour, her first live performances in a decade. The set list spotlights her terrific bluegrass albums, The Grass Is Blue, Little Sparrow,
and Halos & Horns,
with passing nods to her pop and contemporary country incarnations -- mostly in an interesting a cappella block that features a muted rendering of "Islands in the Stream" and a doo-wop-flavored treatment of "Here You Come Again," among other tunes. In addition to recent fare such as "The Grass Is Blue" and "Little Sparrow," Disc 1 also finds Parton and her stalwart band, the Blueniques, revisiting the rootsy, self-penned early country hits, highlighted by electrifying performances of "My Tennessee Mountain Home," "Coat of Many Colors," and "Applejack." Disc 2 digs deep with a stirring version of the portentous "Dagger Through the Heart" and a yearning rendition of Neil Young
's "After the Gold Rush," with a lyric update suited for the times ("Look at Mother Nature on the run in the 21st century"). Here also is a feisty "Jolene," a tour-de-force rendering of "Stairway to Heaven," and, to close out the show, a spare, elegant, and exceedingly beautiful acoustic treatment of "I Will Always Love You," as if to remind one and all that the original is still the best. All this and the vivacious, endearing Dolly personality to boot. Quite a night it was, and its luster is unlikely to diminish with time, any more than Dolly's music has.