Throwback Thursday — Jolene | Dolly Parton (1973)


Hope O'Dell

Losing a significant other to someone else sucks. It feels like watching a tragedy unfold through the television screen. It feels helpless. It feels like Dolly Parton’s song “Jolene.” This song is one of the catchiest and most heartbreaking songs of all time. Parton released the song in 1973 as a single off her album of the same name, and the sentiments she sings out on the track still ring true in 2018.

The song is held together with a looping acoustic guitar lick and a beat that sounds like a scorned woman in cowboy boots walking down the street to confront her lover’s mistress. Confessing her despair to the other woman, Parton cries out lyrics like, “He talks about you in his sleep, there’s nothing I can do to keep from crying when he calls your name, Jolene.” This song is Parton’s confessional and her final plea for mercy.

Parton’s song has been covered by pop powerhouses like Miley Cyrus and Kelly Clarkson as well as rockers like the White Stripes, each artist attempting to capture the heartache and despair Parton warbles out with her twangy vibrato in their own way.

Needless to say, Parton’s song has staying power. It has continued to be a prevalent and loved song for the past 45 years and as long as people suck and leave their partners, it’s here to stay.