Dolly Parton Brings the House Down With ‘World on Fire’ at the 2023 ACMs
"Liar, liar, the world's on fire / What you gonna do when it all burns down? / Fire, fire, burnin' higher / Still got time to turn it all around," she sings in the chorus.
The reach-across-the-aisle track is a call to action for the nations to put down their offenses and realize what the human race is doing to itself. She calls for the world to forget about politics and put its trust back in God.
Parton opened the song on an elevated platform, in a long, flowing gown featuring a silhouette of the globe. After the first few lines, the skirt ripped away to reveal the singer in a black ensemble. Flames licked at the back of the stage, and dancers performed their choreographed moves around Parton as she belted out her heartfelt song.
"World on Fire" is the first single from Parton's first-ever rock album, Rockstar. Though many of the tracks on the project are covers and superstar collaborations, "World on Fire" is an original song that Parton herself wrote.
When she teased her ACMs performance late last month, Parton said that "World on Fire" is a timely message about the state of the world — and it's relevant to every single person who hears it.
"It's really kind of about the times, and how we can do a little better if we try. Try to heal the divide and just get along a little better," she explained. "And so it's really got a great message to it. But it's also good and solid, kind of like a rock anthem."
The idea for Rockstar emerged after Parton was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2022 — an accolade she was initially hesitant to receive, because as an artist whose career has primarily taken place in the country and pop genres, she didn't feel that she'd "earned" her induction. But after being voted in anyway, Parton vowed to live up to the honor, and the idea of Rockstar was born.
So far, Parton has named a number of living legends from the rock world who will be joining her on the album. Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks and Creedence Clearwater Revival's John Fogerty are two artists who even joined her in the studio in person to record their duets. Elton John, Paul McCartney and Steven Tyler also appear on the track list.
The 2023 ACM Awards took place at Frisco, Texas' Ford Center. Parton's co-host for the evening was Garth Brooks, and the event marked the first time Brooks has ever been a host at a major country music awards show.