The country icon closed the show with the first taste of her upcoming album Rockstar
Dolly Parton closed out the 2023 ACM Awards with the live debut of her new song “World on Fire.” Parton also co-hosted the two-hour show alongside Garth Brooks.
Performing with a line of backup dancers that doubled as a choir, Parton sang a cautionary tale about the state of affairs. In short, humanity has lost faith in God, politicians are greedy, and the meaning of truth is up for debate. “What is truth? Have we all lost sight/of common decency/of wrong and right?” she sang at one point. As the song reached its extended conclusion, Parton and the choir repeated, “Liar, liar, the world’s on fire/what you gonna do when it all burns down?” To say the finale was an uplifting moment, despite a rain of confetti, would be a stretch.
“World on Fire” will appear on Parton’s upcoming album Rockstar, due out Nov. 17. The country legend announced the bonkers track list and guest credits for album earlier in the week. The 30-track collection is made up of two-thirds cover songs and the remaining third originals, with guests including everyone from Lizzo to Paul McCartney to Sheryl Crow to Rob Halford, plus Stevie Nicks, Steve Perry, and Steven Tyler, and many more.
Rockstar was partially a response to Parton’s 2022 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, an honor she didn’t feel like she deserved until she made a straightforward rock album. Initially, she tried to have herself removed from consideration, but then relented.
“It was always my belief that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was for people in rock music,” she said in an interview with NPR’s Morning Edition in 2022. “I have found out lately it’s not necessarily that. But if they can’t go there to be recognized, where can they go? And so I felt like I was taking away from someone that maybe deserved it certainly more than me since I never considered myself a rock artist. But obviously, there’s more to it than that.”
Lainey Wilson was the night’s big winner, taking home ACM Awards honors for Album of the Year and Female Artist of the Year. Chris Stapleton was crowned Entertainer of the Year.