On This Day: Dolly Parton Releases 42nd Album ‘Blue Smoke’ in 2014

by Emily Morgan

Dolly Parton released her 42nd studio album, Blue Smoke, seven years ago today, on January 30, 2014.  

Like much of Parton’s work, Blue Smoke’s inspiration came from growing up in rural Appalachia. Growing up in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, the rolling fog that symbolizes the iconic landscape inspired Parton to record the album and the title track of the same name. 

Dolly Parton Returns To Her Smoky Mtn Roots In Blue Smoke

“It was a song that brought me out of the Smoky Mountains and it will be a song that lays me back down in the ground in the Smoky Mountains.”

According to Parton, the record serves as a celebration for “all the colors” in her life by featuring the bluegrass, country, gospel, and mountain music influences. 

The song’s title track, “Blue Smoke,” acts as a bluegrass breakup ballad about leaving the one you loved. 

In an interview with Billboard, Parton recalled naming the record long before she released it.

“When I first started doing my bluegrass stuff, I always thought that would make a great title for a bluegrass band,” she said. 

“I didn’t do anything with that, but I loved the title. So, I thought ‘I need to write a song about ‘Blue Smoke’ of some kind, and wondered what that would be. I thought maybe a train, so I wrote it a long time ago. Then, when I put together a tour and an album, that song kept coming back to me.”

After its release, Blue Smoke debuted at No. 6 on the “Billboard 200” album chart. 

In 1987 she’d previously reached No. 6 with Trio, her collaboration record with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris.

In addition to solo tracks, the album also features a duet with Kenny Rogers on “You Can’t Make Old Friends,” originally released on his 2013 album of the same name. 

When the duet premiered on the “Billboard Country Airplay” chart in 2013, it peaked at No. 57, marking Parton’s chart comeback since “Jesus and Gravity” claimed the No. 56 spot in 2008. 

Parton also includes a duet with longtime friend and country music colleague, Willie Nelson. The pair recorded “From Here to the Moon which was also on Nelson’s 2013 album, To All the Girls…

In addition to originals, it wouldn’t be a true Parton record without Parton’s take on covers. The album also includes covers of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” and Bon Jovi’s “Lay Your Hands on Me.”