On This Day: Dolly Parton Releases ‘Old Flames Can’t Hold a Candle to You’ in 1978

by Jacklyn Krol

Remember when Dolly Parton wowed country music with “Old Flames Can’t Hold a Candle to You?”

The legendary singer-songwriter debuted the track on July 19, 1978. Parton was able to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs Chart and No. 2 in Canada with the tune. Pebe Sebert and Hugh Moffatt co-wrote the song together.

The song was first recorded by Joe Sun in 1978. He reached No. 14 on the country chart. Months later, Brian Collins released his own rendition which charted at No. 86. Parton was the third person to cover the song in August of 1980. It was featured on her record, Dolly Dolly Dolly and later as a “Greatest Hit.”

Sebert’s famous daughter, pop star Kesha, released her own acoustic cover of the song off of her 2013 EP Deconstructed. She collaborated with Dolly Parton for an official cover on her 2017 album, Rainbow.

“I know [Kesha] because of her mother,” Parton told Rolling Stone. “It was one of my favorite songs that I ever did,” she shared.

At first, Dolly Parton didn’t realize that Sebert was Kesha’s mother. Regardless she was ready to collaborate with her.

“I said, ‘Why did you choose to do that song? That’s an unusual choice for you.’ She said, ‘Well, because my mother wrote it,” Parton recalled of their conversation.

Meanwhile, Kesha couldn’t praise the lyricism or Parton enough.

“It’s a classic country music standard,” she told NPR. “I’ve played it at tons of my shows…. I just love the song — it’s in our family, and it has always been a dream to record it with Dolly Parton. It’s always been one of those ridiculous things to say out loud so you don’t say it. I felt silly ever saying that out loud, because, I mean — it’s Dolly Parton.”

Dolly Parton on Fame

Dolly Parton has one of the most recognizable faces in the world. Somehow, she manages to stay down to earth. In a 2018 interview with The Boot, she spoke candidly about fame.

“I’ve managed to know how to go anywhere I want to go, do anything I want to do … I know what time of day I can go shop. I know what time of day I can go to restaurants and what types of restaurants to go to,” she shared.

Although at times she wants to remain under the radar, she enjoys it when fans greet her.

“And I don’t mind people recognizing me and being cordial, speaking to me,” she continued. “I’m not one of those artists who wants to run from the public. It’s a small price to pay, considering I’ve seen my dreams come true.”