On This Day: Dolly Parton Releases Seventh Album ‘Joshua’ in 1971

by Katie Maloney

Fifty years ago today, Dolly Parton released her seventh studio album, Joshua,” on April 12, 1971.

Like many country music artists, it took Dolly Parton a little while before she landed a No. 1 single. In fact, it wasn’t until she released her seventh studio album, Joshua, that she soared to the No. 1 spot. The album peaked at No. 16 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. The title track, “Joshua,” rose to the No. 1 on the Hot Country Songs chart in February 1971. Additionally, Dolly Parton was nominated for a Grammy for the song.

Dolly wrote “Joshua” about a reclusive man from her childhood. He was a hermit-like man who lived alone and played his banjo for the locals. The man was a special friend to Dolly as a child. “Joshua” tells the story of love between the man and Dolly. However, in real life, there was never a romance between them.

Dolly Parton “Joshua”

Dolly Parton Writes a Song On Her Birthday Every Year

Many people, on their birthdays, take some time to reflect on the past year. Dolly Parton does the same thing but in her own very Dolly way. Every year, she writes a song for herself on her birthday. During an interview in 2020, Dolly talked about her birthday writing process.

“It’s a commemorative thing to write something on my birthday—it’s what I do and what I am,” said Dolly. “I just think it’s my gift to myself.”

With 44 Top 10 country albums and 26 No. 1 hit songs, Dolly Parton’s music isn’t just a gift to herself, it’s also a gift to the world. And she said that she doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

“It’s something I love to do,” said Dolly. “I love thinking I’m putting something in the world today that wasn’t there yesterday—and hopefully will be there forever.”

During the same interview, Dolly Parton reflected on what it was like to land her first No. 1 hit song ever with “Joshua.”

I remember feeling like all our hard work had paid off: I was going to be able to make a life in this business,” said Dolly. “I don’t remember making that much money from [“Joshua”] at that time, but I’m sure I spent it on stage clothes or my family or something like that. And I remember watching it rise up the charts and thinking, ‘Golly, that’s such a great feeling!'”