On This Day: Dolly Parton Releases ‘The Bargain Store’ Album in 1975

by Emily Morgan

Today in country music history, Dolly Parton gave fans her fifteenth studio album, The Bargain Store, on February 17, 1975.

The album, produced by RCA Victor, consisted mostly of Parton’s compositions and contained Merle Haggard’s “You’ll Always Be Special to Me.” 

He also covered Parton’s “Kentucky Gambler” from The Bargain Store later that year.

The title track is one of the best-known compositions of her career. She released the song in January 1975 as the first single and title track from the album.

The song was Parton’s fifth No. 1on the country chart as a solo artist. The song would hold the No. 1 position for a week and spent nine weeks on the country chart.

Like usual, Parton uses a simple metaphor to convey an emotional message. Fo this song, she used the analogy of worn down, second-hand merchandise in a discount store for a woman damaged by her relationship.

The Metaphor Radio Stations Misunderstood On Dolly Parton’s Title Track

Parton released the song on numerous country radio stations, but things went awry when programmers mistook the line “you can easily afford the price” as a reference to prostitution. 

As a result, the song received little airtime, but the song topped the U.S. country singles charts in April 1975.

It was also made available as a digital download on iTunes. 

This marked the first time that eight of the songs (“When I’m Gone,” “The Only Hand You’ll Need to Hold,” “I Want to Be What You Need,” “Love to Remember,” “You’ll Always Be Special to Me,” “He Would Know” and “I’ll Never Forget”) have been made available outside of the original LP, cassette and eight-track releases of the album.

Another hit off the record, “Kentucky Gambler,” was also penned by Dolly Parton. 

“Kentucky Gambler,” tells the story of a miner from Kentucky who abandons his wife and children for the bright lights of Reno, where he initially does very well at gambling, “winning at everything he played.” 

Of course, his winning streak comes to an end, as he loses all of his winnings. He returns home with no money left, only to find that his wife has found someone else and has moved on without him. The song ends with the message that “a gambler loses much more than he wins”.

In December 2013, Parton re-released the album for the first time since she initially dropped it in 1975.