About the song

Dolly Parton is one of the most iconic and influential country music artists of all time. She has written and recorded hundreds of songs, many of which have become classics in their own right. One of her most famous and recognizable songs is “Jolene”, a heartbreaking plea to a beautiful woman who might steal her husband away.

“Jolene” was released in 1973 as the first single and title track from Parton’s thirteenth solo studio album of the same name. It was produced by Bob Ferguson and recorded at RCA Studio B in Nashville, Tennessee. The song was a huge success, reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and #60 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It also became Parton’s first top ten hit in the UK, where it peaked at #7 in 1976.

The song was inspired by two real-life women who crossed paths with Parton in the late 1960s. The first one was a red-haired bank clerk who flirted with Parton’s husband, Carl Dean, whenever he visited his local branch. Parton later said that she joked with her husband about his frequent trips to the bank, but she also felt insecure about the attention he was getting from the other woman.

The second one was an eight-year-old girl who asked Parton for an autograph after one of her shows. Parton was struck by the girl’s beauty, especially her red hair and green eyes, and asked her for her name. The girl said “Jolene”, and Parton thought it was a pretty name that sounded like a song. She decided to combine the two stories and write a song about a woman named Jolene who threatened to take her man.

The song is written from the perspective of a desperate wife who begs Jolene not to take her husband just because she can. She praises Jolene’s beauty and charm, but also expresses her fear and pain. She says that she cannot compete with Jolene, and that losing him would mean losing everything. She repeats Jolene’s name several times throughout the song, creating a sense of urgency and obsession.

The song has been praised for its emotional depth, lyrical simplicity, and musical elegance. It features a distinctive thumb-picked guitar pattern by Chip Young, which creates a rhythmic and melodic contrast to Parton’s soaring vocals. The song has also been noted for its ambiguity, as it is unclear whether Jolene actually intends to pursue the husband or not, or whether the wife’s fears are justified or exaggerated.

“Jolene” has been covered by many artists over the years, including Olivia Newton-John, The White Stripes, Miley Cyrus, Pentatonix, and Dua Lipa. It has also inspired several answer songs, such as “Diane” by Cam, “Jackie” by Boss Hoss, and “Jolene’s Reply” by Darcy O’Donnell. The song has been recognized as one of the greatest songs of all time by various publications and organizations, such as Rolling Stone, NPR, CMT, and the Grammy Hall of Fame.

“Jolene” is more than just a song; it is a cultural phenomenon that showcases Parton’s genius as a songwriter and performer. It is a timeless tale of love, jealousy, and insecurity that resonates with listeners across generations and genres. It is a testament to Parton’s ability to create memorable characters and stories with just a few words and chords.

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Lyrics

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
I’m begging of you please don’t take my man
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
Please don’t take him just because you can
Your beauty is beyond compare
With flaming locks of auburn hair
With ivory skin and eyes of emerald green
Your smile is like a breath of spring
Your voice is soft like summer rain
And I cannot compete with you
Jolene
He talks about you in his sleep
And there’s nothing I can do to keep
From crying when he calls your name
Jolene
And I can easily understand
How you could easily take my man
But you don’t know what he means to me
Jolene
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
I’m begging of you please don’t take my man
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
Please don’t take him just because you can
You could have your choice of men
But I could never love again
He’s the only one for me
Jolene
I had to have this talk with you
My happiness depends on you
And whatever you decide to do
Jolene
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
I’m begging of you please don’t take my man
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
Please don’t take him even though you can
Jolene, Jolene