This Week’s News

8:45 p.m. Thursday UPDATE: Emergency officials say the death toll from Tennessee wildfires this week has risen to 11.

3:47 p.m. Thursday UPDATE: A Tennessee mayor says that the death toll from wildfires earlier this week has increased to 10.

12:40 p.m. Thursday UPDATE: Dolly Parton has created a fund to donate to the people who lost their homes in the Smoky Mountain wildfires.

In a news release, Parton said the new “My People Fund” will donate $1,000 each month to Sevier County families who have lost their homes.

“We want to provide a hand up to those families who have lost everything in the fires,” Parton said. “I know it has been a trying time for my people and this assistance will help get them back on their feet.”

To donate to the “My People Fund,” go here.

As of Thursday morning, the wildfires have killed seven people and thousands have been evacuated from the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge regions.

More information about the charity will become available on Dec. 2, according to the news release. Watch Parton explain more about the charity below.



3:28 p.m. UPDATE: According to Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters, seven people have now died in the East Tennessee wildfires.

Original Post:

According to spokespeople from Dollywood, Dolly Parton’s theme park resort in Pigeon Forge, TN, the recent wildfires in the Smoky Mountains and East Tennessee area have not affected the park itself, but more than a dozen cabins managed through Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Cabins were damaged or destroyed in the fires.

Smoke surrounds a home as seen from aboard a National Guard helicopter near Gatlinburg, Tenn., Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Thousands of people have fled deadly wildfires that have destroyed hundreds of homes and a resort in the Great Smoky Mountains. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig)

Dollywood has suspended park operations as of today. The park will reopen on Friday, Dec. 2. Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort will be open on a limited basis.

The wildfire started late Sunday night after a small fire that began on Chimney Top Mountain spread from 50 acres to well over 500 acres, with some help from extreme drought conditions that are the worst the region has experienced in almost a decade.

Pigeon Forge and nearby city Gatlinburg are tourist hotspots in Tennessee, especially in the fall and winter, when many cabin lodges are rented out for the holidays. So far, thousands have been evacuated from the Smoky Mountain region, four people have died from the fires and thunderstorms over Tuesday night finally poured some coveted rain on the region, WRAL reports.

Dolly Parton issued a statement Tuesday about the wildfires:

“I have been watching the terrible fires in the Great Smoky Mountains and I am heartbroken.  I am praying for all the families affected by the fire and the firefighters who are working so hard to keep everyone safe. It is a blessing that my Dollywood theme park, the DreamMore Resort and so many businesses in Pigeon Forge have been spared.”

Read more: Dolly Parton gets back to basics with ‘Pure & Simple’ album

The National Guard has been deployed to the area to help with emergency evacuations and to assist firefighters.

With the thunderstorm Tuesday night and more storms scheduled to hit the area throughout the week, the worst of the fires looks to be over.

This Week’s Best New Song


Faith Hill has been touring consistently since her return to the country music spotlight in 2005, but she hasn’t released a new album since that year’s “Fireflies.” A new album with producer Brendan O’Brien was rumored in 2011, but was never released. This month saw the release of “Deep Tracks,” a compilation album of material Hill recorded for other albums but never released as singles, or never released at all.

“Why,” which would eventually go on to become a Rascal Flatts song on their 2009 album “Unstoppable,” was written by  Rob Mathes and Allen Shablin and produced by Dan Huff. Hill recorded it in 2004 for “Fireflies,” but ultimately chose not to include it.

The song itself is about someone whose friend has just committed suicide. It’s heavy, painful subject matter. Hill sings it with reverence and pain, the point of view of someone trying to understand what just happened. Unlike other country songs that try to tackle important subject matter like this, “Why” doesn’t offer answers or solutions, just grief.

This Week’s Worst New Song (NSFW)

YouTube screenshot.

I love a good parody song as much as anybody. Every time I hear “American Pie” I still have to fight the urge to sing “My, my, this here Anakin guy” because of “Weird Al” Yankovic. And who could forget country music’s preeminent parody man, Cledus T. Judd (real name Barry Poole) from the early aughts?

But those singers, much like any movie that effectively crafted a parody/homage (think “Scream,” “Airplane!,” the “Austin Powers” franchise) succeeded because they successfully imitated the art form they were deriding and commented on the art form’s shortcomings at the same time. An inferior parody, like the later “Scary Movies” or “Meet the Spartans” fails because the jokes oftentimes resort to shock tactics to be “funny.”

This week’s worst song, “Sag In Her Boobs,” is a parody of Jon Pardi’s “Dirt on My Boots” performed by YouTube comedian Outlaw (real name Jared Outlaw). He keeps Pardi’s hard-edged country/rock instrumentation, but turns the song into an unfunny ode to hooking up with a big woman at the bar. Rampant f-bombs abound simply for the sake of swearing, and oh, the woman Outlaw is hitting on is really a dude! Hilarious!

The novelty song managed to claw its way to No. 59 on the iTunes country charts on Nov. 25, according to Outlaw’s Twitter account. A day later, the video hit 100,000 YouTube views in 24 hours.

I’m no prude; I just lauded Wheeler Walker, Jr.’s album as one of the best of the year. But where “Redneck S—” succeeds in lampooning country tropes while paying tribute to them at the same time, Outlaw seems content to just throw on some tired jokes about overweight women, add a dash of profanity and call it a day. There’s no commentary about the record-label fight that made “Dirt on My Boots” a single in the first place, or about how every country singer now has to have a “goin’ out in my boots” song. It’s shock comedy for shock comedy’s sake.

Also, maybe don’t open that video at work. Or ever. But hey, if you’re a glutton for punishment, be my guest.

This Week’s Best Country Show in Austin

Michael Martin Murphey / Photo by Joe Owenby

Friday, Dec. 2 will see native Texan Michael Martin Murphey’s Cowboy Christmas show at One World Theatre. Tickets range from $25-$65. An early show starts at 7 p.m. and a late show starts at 9:30 p.m. His latest album, “High Stakes,” examines life from his western-focused lens.

This is the Country Music Roundup, a weekly blog where we’ll give you the latest news in country music releases and local country shows. For a more in-depth analysis of the genre and where it’s headed, check back with our weekly Gone Country blog every week.

Questions, comments, suggestions? Let me know on Twitter @jakeharris4 or by email: