Dolly Parton Wrote ‘Coat of Many Colors’ on a Dry-Cleaning Tag

by Joe Rutland
(Photo by Douglas Mason/WireImage/Getty Images)

Inspiration hits songwriters at weird times. It does for country music legend Dolly Parton and she’ll use anything to write down those words.

Heck, she’s even been known to use a dry-cleaning tag, write down words, and turn them into a major hit.

Parton, known for her singing and recording work, does a lot of songwriting. It is reported that Parton makes herself write one song a day, whether it’s used by her or sent to another musician.

Now about that dry-cleaning tag. Parton made an appearance on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” and talked about writing the words to “Coat of Many Colors.”

Dolly Parton Uses Whatever She Can Find To Write Words

“You write lyrics on whatever is in front of you,” Fallon said.

“That’s right,” Parton replied with a laugh.

“So we have, like, a dry cleaning bill photo that you wrote ‘Coat of Many Colors’ on,” Fallon said.

“Yes, that was the dry-cleaning tag off of Porter Wagoner’s show outfit,” Parton said. “Porter Wagoner was the man that I started my early career with in Nashville.

Parton Uses Dry-Cleaning Tag From Porter Wagoner

“So, we were leaving on the bus and Porter stopped by to get his suit out of the cleaners,” she said. “And I was already on the bus. All of a sudden this song just started coming to me and when you write, you just grab anything when you get an inspired idea.

“So I just jerked the tag off of his cleaning suit, the cleaning bag, and started to write ‘Coat of Many Colors’ and I wrote it down,” she said.

“That is so cool,” Fallon said. “Did you keep all that stuff?”

“I have all kinds of stuff in my museum where I keep all of that,” Parton said. “And I also have all my fans that make things for me and write poems and make things and take pictures. I have what I call my ‘Arts and Crap Building’ ’cause I can’t throw anything away.”

Listen to Parton and Fallon chat it up during her recent “Tonight Show” appearance.