Remember When Dolly Parton Recorded ‘Jolene?’

Photo Courtesy Dolly Parton
Photo Courtesy Dolly Parton
Photo Courtesy Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton recorded her iconic song “Jolene” on this day in 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 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.'”

As stated by Parton, “Jolene” is her most-covered song, with artists such as Carrie Underwood, Gabby Barrett, Kelly Clarkson and Miley Cyrus, covering the beloved track during their live shows. 

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.

“Jolene” received many honors and nominations, including being ranked No. 217 in Rolling Stone’s list of “the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time” in 2004, getting nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance at the 17th and 18th Grammy Awards and receiving a Grammy for Best Country Duo/Group Performance at the 59th Grammy Awards for a cover of the song by Pentatonix. “Jolene” was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2014.

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