blue butterfly on flower

Why Does Dolly Parton Like Butterflies?

Dolly Parton once wrote about her childhood in the Smoky Mountains, “As a little bitty child, I’d get lost chasing them into the woods. Everybody hollered at me, but I didn’t care. I’m going to be like a butterfly, I decided. Spread my wings and fly.”

And soar, she did. The butterfly is as synonymous with Dolly’s image as her voluminous hair, bright lipstick, fingerless gloves, and sequins. But why does Dolly Parton like butterflies? Is there something special about them? 

Let’s find out.

Love Is Like a Butterfly

Even if you don’t know much about Parton, you probably have heard one of her most popular songs, like “Love Is Like a Butterfly.” It’s also the title of the fourteenth studio album that Parton released in September 1974. On the cover, you see Dolly framed by the wings of a butterfly. 

It’s fitting for someone who wrote the lyrics: “Love makes your heart feel strange inside/ It flutters like soft wings in flight/ Love is like a butterfly, a rare and gentle thing.”

Later, “Love Is Like a Butterfly” was soon referred to as “Butterfly,” and it became the singer’s signature song. “Butterfly” was even used as the theme song for the Dolly music series in 1976. 

Soon enough, fans of the country singer started to realize just how much Parton loves butterflies. 

Visions of Dollywood

In 1986, Dollywood, an amusement park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, opened its gates to the public. The Dollywood theme park has the country superstar’s fingerprints all over it. There are many elements from Parton’s life that are easy to spot, but there are others that are far more subtle, such as the butterfly replacing the “W” in the park’s logo. 

There is also the arrangement of flowers shaped like a butterfly just beneath the main sign, a gigantic butterfly over the Dolly’s Closet attraction, and much more to be found. 

Why are butterflies everywhere in the park? It is because Dolly has been fascinated with them ever since childhood. Parton once said,

Butterflies are my symbol. As a child, I used to get lost chasing them and got my butt whipped for wandering too far off. So we have butterflies everywhere.

Fun fact: Dollywood isn’t the only place covered in the butterfly motif. Dolly’s pool at her home in Nashville even has a butterfly design! 

Dolly’s Childhood Dream 

Though the butterfly is a long-standing symbol of the superstar Dolly Parton, it’s truly a way for Parton to pay homage to her past—to her childhood. No matter how famous she has become or how much money she has earned, Dolly continues to look back at the simple times of her childhood.

She grew up in the Smoky Mountains with her eleven siblings. Chasing butterflies and June bugs, working on a farm, and eating whatever her father caught while hunting are some of her fondest memories. 

But she never stopped looking at the butterflies that added color to the hillsides. Never stopped thinking that there was something more out there. Parton wrote for Guideposts,

I knew there was a world beyond the Smokies—the geese and butterflies had to be flying somewhere, after all—and I wanted to see it for myself. 

Perhaps that is why the little girl who got lost in the woods while following butterflies ended up making such a name for herself; because she never lost sight of the boundless horizon that those winged creatures kept aiming for. 

To Be a Butterfly

Why does Dolly Parton love butterflies? Because they remind her of a promise she made to herself as a child. Parton wanted to spread her wings. And so she did. Throughout her life, Dolly has never stopped soaring higher and higher. She continues to shine with her bright smile, legendary music, and scintillating personality. 

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  • Valerie is a digital nomad who writes to travel the world. She is also a professional dancer, BJJ practitioner, personal fitness trainer, and yoga instructor. Her work is supported by an A.S. in Exercise Science and a B.A. in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Dance.

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