The “Old Town Road” singer put his own twist on “Jolene” while visiting the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge and the performance clip raked in a whopping 1.3+ million views upon its release.
The cover even caught the attention of the country music icon herself, who reacted to Lil Nas X’s cover on Twitter.
“I was so excited when someone told me that Lil Nas X had done my song #Jolene,” Parton shared. “I had to find it and listen to it immediately…and it’s really good. Of course, I love him anyway. I was surprised and I’m honored and flattered. I hope he does good for both of us. Thank you @LilNasX.”
I was so excited when someone told me that Lil Nas X had done my song #Jolene. I had to find it and listen to it immediately…and it’s really good. Of course, I love him anyway. I was surprised and I’m honored and flattered. I hope he does good for both of us. Thank you @LilNasX https://t.co/w7vJWGypOp
— Dolly Parton (@DollyParton) September 29, 2021
“Jolene” is one of Parton’s signature hits. The track was recorded on May 22, 1973.
Produced by Bob Ferguson, the song was recorded at RCA Studio B and was Parton’s first single from her album of the same name.
The inspiration for “Jolene” came from a visit to the bank with her new husband Carl Dean.
“She got this terrible crush on my husband,” Parton previously told NPR. “And he just loved going to the bank because she paid him so much attention. It was kinda like a running joke between us — when I was saying, ‘Hell, you’re spending a lot of time at the bank. I don’t believe we’ve got that kind of money.’ So it’s really an innocent song all around, but sounds like a dreadful one.”
The title of the track and description of “Jolene” were drawn from a young fan who asked for Parton’s autograph during one of her concerts.
“One night, I was on stage, and there was this beautiful little girl — she was probably 8 years old at the time,” Parton explained. “And she had this beautiful red hair, this beautiful skin, these beautiful green eyes, and she was looking up at me, holding, you know, for an autograph. I said, ‘Well, you’re the prettiest little thing I ever saw. So what is your name?’ And she said, ‘Jolene.’ And I said, ‘Jolene. Jolene. Jolene. Jolene.’ I said, ‘That is pretty. That sounds like a song. I’m going to write a song about that.’”
The track shot up the charts, becoming the second stand-alone No.1 single of Parton’s career. “Jolene” was later released as a single in the UK where it earned a spot at No.7 in the Top 10 hit songs on the UK Singles Chart.
Artists such as Carrie Underwood, Gabby Barrett, Kelly Clarkson and Miley Cyrus have covered the beloved track during their live shows.