Dolly Parton released her seminal album “Jolene” on this day back in 1974. The country artist struck big with her 13th studio album. Songs featured on the album include classics like “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You.”
Parton wrote “I Will Always Love You” as an apology to Porter Wagoner. For seven years, the duo had been one of country music’s most celebrated acts. But with “Jolene,” Parton broke apart their collaboration to once again pursue her solo endeavors.
While Waggoner and Parton were certainly an iconic duo, it’s easy to argue that Parton made the right choice. In her long and prolific career, the album “Jolene” stands out among her best work. Parton was just as dynamic and marvelous as a solo act as she was a part of an act.
Behind Dolly Parton’s Hit Song ‘Jolene’
The centerpiece of the album is Parton’s titular song “Jolene,” which became a No. 1 hit. The song tells the story of a wife confronting her husband’s mistress. But the name Jolene actually came from a little girl that wanted an autograph. Parton liked the sound of the name.
“One night, I was on stage, and there was this beautiful little girl — she was probably 8 years old at the time,” Parton told NPR. “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 for the story, Parton drew inspiration from a bank teller, who had a crush on her husband. Her husband enjoyed the attention he received as a result.
“She got this terrible crush on my husband,” Parton explained. “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.