Dolly Parton Jolene Earth: The inspiration and story behind the singer’s famous songs

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Jolene is one of Dolly Parton’‘s most iconic songs, which have been covered over the years by artists including Miley Cyrus and Olivia Newton-John – and now, most recently, Beyonce,

The song served as the lead single as well as the title track of Parton’s 1974 album, and became her second hit to reach #1 on the Billboard country chart.

Although it technically falls into the country category, the song is loved by fans of all genres for its unique story, which Parton has long been known for.

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Dolly Parton’s Jolene is arguably her most enduring hit. (Getty Images for ACM)

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The song has since become a quintessential part of music history, and although it tells the story of one woman’s jealousy of another woman, the idea for the song came to Parton in an unexpected way.

She once said in an interview, “One night, I was on stage, and there was a beautiful little girl there – she was probably eight years old at the time.”

“And she had beautiful red hair, beautiful skin, beautiful green eyes, and she was looking at me, you know, for an autograph.

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“I said, ‘Well, you’re the most beautiful little thing I’ve ever seen. So what’s your name?’ And she said, ‘Jolene.’ And I said, ‘Jolene. Jolene. Jolene. Jolene.’ I said, ‘It’s beautiful. It sounds like a song. I’m going to write a song about it.’”

And write a song about what he did.

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Inspired by her meeting with the young girl, Parton began writing a tune centered around the name Jolene, and used her everyday life experiences to write the lyrics.

Dolly Parton performing in 1978 (Getty)
Parton’s song Jolene has been covered by many artists. (Getty)

The song’s lyrics were inspired by a redheaded bank teller who flirted with her husband, Carl Dean.

“She had everything I didn’t have, like legs – you know, she was about 6 feet tall,” Parton said in a 2008 NPR interview.

,[She] I had everything that some small, sawed-off honchos like me didn’t have.”

Instead of trying to tear down the other woman, Parton wrote the song with grace and vulnerability, allowing the description to convey a sense of pain and the fear of potentially losing something you love.

And it looks like Parton is still taking the high road today.

having been Happily married to Dean since 1966She’s also thanked the red-headed bank teller for being her inspiration behind the hit single.

At the Glastonbury show in 2014, Parton talked about the story behind the song.

“I wrote that [song] “Several years ago when my husband … was spending a little more time with Jolene than I thought I would,” she said.

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dolly parton
Parton has since thanked the red-haired bank teller who inspired the song. (Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

“I put a stop to that. I quickly got rid of that red-haired woman… If it wasn’t for that woman I would never have been able to write Jolene And I wouldn’t have made that much money, so thank you, Jolene,

Beyoncé recently joined the ranks of musicians who have dared to add their own spin to Parton’s iconic track.

Bootylicious Singer incorporated the hit song within himself new album cowboy carter, Changing some lyrics to a more modern feminist perspective.

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, I’m warning you, woman, you find your man, Jolene, I know I’m a queen, Jolene…

Parton later shared in a statement that she approved the cover. “Wow, I just heard Jolene,” he said in a message on Instagram. “Beyoncé is giving that girl some trouble and she deserves it! Love, Dolly P.”

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