I had a realization when I was singing and playing Coat of Many Colors by Dolly Parton, and that was this; I have also made a coat of many colors for my children, out of the small pieces of many colored goodwill I have been given. I stitch together whatever opportunities come my way with such love and hope for their “good luck and happiness” as Dolly says it.
This song is about women in history. It is a seemingly simple story told by a daughter who recalls with great pride the creativity and ingenuity of her mother who had limited resources, but unlimited love, that made her believe in her own future. The daughter tells us that her mother can read, and takes a colorful scrap of story from the bible to spin it into a tale of hope and promise, so that when she is laughed at for the patches on her britches, holes in both her shoes, and eclectic coat, she does just what her mother did; she spins the story so that she is the wealthy one, the empowered one, the one with the privilege, because she chooses to be.
This song is brilliant. It’s the essence of spiritual living in the material world. It’s the essence of empowerment. Here is a mother sewing a winter coat out of rags from someone’s charity, or discards, who infuses the labor with her own meaning, forms her own narrative, to set her daughter free. But, not just free to do as she pleases; free to help people, teach people how to see better, give more, live bigger, spread joy fearlessly, just like Dolly Parton.
I can’t tell you the deep feeling I had singing this song when I realized I’m sewing my own coat of many colors – that even sometimes my close friends do not understand – and I am proud of it. But I didn’t see it as such before I worked on this song… I was a little brow beaten, and this song put me straight. It has given me the exact context for my natural choices to make utter sense in. My children and my work are infused with my narrative and I am not a scholar, but I stitch together from what I love to rise and heal and help and feel, for my greatest joy is my children running free into the world, as the narrator does in this song, with her own message of salvation. You are what you choose to be. What a message!
I thank you, Dolly Parton, for what you do for humanity, the example you set, the bar you raise, the beauty, love, morality and fun you give us. You have made history in your coat of many colors, that’s what goddesses do.
With love and affection,
Sophie B. Hawkins
Watch my cover of Dolly’s “Coat of Many Colors” on my YouTube channel… and if you haven’t already, please subscribe while you’re there! #WomanCrushWednesday #WomensHistoryMonth