Miss Piggy has nothing to do with this post, but once I found that image, how could I not use it? Two legends in curls. Dolly Parton is majestic and we do not deserve her — her philanthropy alone, particularly her contributions to childhood literacy (in 2018, the Dollywood Foundation gave away its 100 MILLIONTH book), put her in this category — but she’s also obviously a prolific musician and cherished performer of all things. Seriously, if she wanted to take up mime, I would watch it. “Jolene,” released 47 years ago yesterday, was Dolly’s second solo No. 1, and she later said she wrote it on the same day she composed “I Will Always Love You.” Both. In one day. DOLLY! It does not get better than Dolly.
Here is Dolly performing it in 1973, when it was new, and she seems nervous about it — not that you would know this from the VERY CONFIDENT height of her hair:
By now I’m sure a lot of people have seen The Twins reacting to hearing “Jolene” for the first time. (Spoiler: They do not approve of Jolene’s activities.) I enjoyed this clip of Dolly singing it at Glastonbury, and seeing a festival audience belt it along with her:
My favorite part of that is, I could SWEAR that’s the event staff lined up in front of the stage, down by the first row of fans, singing along — but they’re also doing a choreographed dance? Did she hire dancers to LOOK like the event staff, or did they all just synchronize? I don’t care. I love it.
I also recommend this gorgeous, haunting strings version:
She’s done so many performances of this over the years, obviously, but this Pentatonix one is also really unique — and, it finally won her the Grammy for “Jolene,” 43 years after it was released and lost.
And the number of covers is immense, like Miley’s, the White Stripes, Miley WITH Dolly (they’ve done it together many times, I believe), Sophie Ellis-Bextor (it’s interesting hearing it in a strong British accent) Kesha (it takes her about 90 seconds to get to it), randomly Lucy Hale… it goes on; Dolly herself says it’s the most recorded of all her songs. But Dolly, forever the original and an original, is the best. Don’t steal her man, Jolene. But, spoiler, you can’t, because no one is fool enough to give up Dolly.