Dolly Parton just seriously exposed a new generation of music lovers to the 4 Non Blonde’s classic 1993 hit “What’s Up?” Singing alongside the songwriter and original singer of the hit, Linda Perry, Parton breathed new life into the old classic, and fans are loving it again. I guess Parton’s in her “cover songs I love in a rock-version leaning way” era, and while I might not know how it started, it’s been fun experiencing it.
In a way, “What’s Up” lyrics are about having an existential crisis, but not in a breakdown everything makes no sense kind of way. “All of these years and my life is still / Just tryin’ to get up that great big hill of hope / For a destination,” Parton sings in the opening verse, before going on to ponder “what’s goin’ on” after she finds herself crying in bed “sometimes.”
I still can’t help thinking that “What’s Up?” lyrics are complementary to Parton’s line in Bebe Rexha’s song, “Seasons,” where she sings, “how come nobody warns us / about what’s coming for us / that you will live and die alone.” I feel like both explore what it’s like to live through many seasons and still feel as lost as everybody else.
The accompanying music video is as deeply inspirational as the song itself. At the beginning of the video, we see Parton singing in a room, while Perry plays the guitar. This is then cut with children having fun and just enjoying a bright day. However, it doesn’t take long for a child to discover the empty room where Parton and Perry are performing and run in to watch them. Other children follow suit and by the time the video comes to an end, the two musicians find themselves surrounded by dozens of children.
Speaking via a press release, Parton said, “I love being a part of this video to try to make people think about what’s going on in this world today. Shout out to the little children that helped with the video! If our children don’t make it, then what will? Again, I ask ‘What’s Up?’ Enjoy.”
Perry gushed about the collaboration in the press release, saying, “How is one supposed to react when the greatest and most prolific songwriter in the world wants to cover a song YOU wrote? Her version of ‘What’s Up?’ is so good. Her spin on it made me feel like it was her song. No surprise there.”
So, nothing to see here. Just two music legends wondering “What’s Up?” while obviously being in awe of each other’s artistry.