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LISTENING IN: Who was Jolene anyway?

I’ve always had a thing for Dolly Parton (musically, of course). I don’t have the albums, I confess, but always thought she had one of the best voices around, and I do (still) love the song “Jolene” – one of many hits that has now led the country music superstar to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

She was named to the Hall this week along with Eminem, Lionel Richie, Carly Simon, Eurythmics, Duran Duran, and Pat Benatar, though she had initially resisted the honour, having gone on social media to “respectfully bow out” of the process, saying she did not want to take votes away from the remaining nominees and had not “earned that right.”

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation responded by saying ballots had already been sent and it was up to the voters to decide if Parton was elected; she later said she was “honoured” and would “gracefully” accept induction, which will formally happen in the Fall.

Parton is most associated with country music and is in the Country Hall of Fame, but she has performed songs with a rock feel. Artists who have made both the Rock Hall and Country Hall of Fame include Brenda Lee, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Chet Atkins, Hank Williams, and the Everly Brothers.

Over the years, Parton has penned over 3,000 songs, of which 25 have reached No. 1 on the country charts (a record tied with Reba McEntire). There’s also been 44 top 10 country albums (another record) and 110 charted singles during her 50-plus year career.

As for my favourite, “Jolene,” the 1973 song was her second No. 1, including in Canada, and, according to Parton, her most-covered songs by other artists.

A fun fact: During the pandemic, New Zealand’s government told locked-down Kiwis that washing their hands with soap would only take about as long as singing the chorus to “Jolene.”

So, who was Jolene? We’ll let Dolly tell the story.

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
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
Hes 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

First published at Travel Industry Today

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