Another Reason Why Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” is Such a Brilliant Song

A truly great song remains great through many different interpretations and re-imaginings.  Dolly Parton’s 1973 song, “Jolene” is one of those songs.

The song tells the story of an unnamed woman confronting a hussy named Jolene who is apparently after the narrator’s man.  (Wikipedia says it’s based on a true story. A red-headed bank teller was flirting with Dolly’s husband with some success.  Apparently there was a confrontation, too.) It’s delivered with minor-key dread, with the vocals pleading, vulnerable, menacing and threatening at the same time.

Here’s the original from 1973.

To be honest, though, I didn’t realize the song’s brilliance until the White Stripes covered it.

And now here’s another take on the song. It’s the 1973 7-inch played at 33 1/3 instead of the proper 45 RPM.  Wow.

(Thanks to Al for the link.)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “Another Reason Why Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” is Such a Brilliant Song

  • April 27, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    There were two comments here before. Why were they deleted?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.