Dolly Parton has just released a new album called Pure & Simple. In celebration of that, here are some of Star2.com’s journalists’ favourite Dolly Parton songs.
Coat Of Many Colors (1971)
Coat Of Many Colors is an example of Dolly Parton’s songwriting at her finest, crafting a beautiful narrative based on a personal story. Her family didn’t have much money, so to beat the cold, her mother sewed a coat made of rags of various sizes and colours. While she wore the coat with pride, she was laughed at by all her friends in school. The song gives us an insight into Parton’s humble beginnings and reminds us that the valuable things in life don’t have to come with a hefty price tag – they’re simply made with love. The original coat is now kept in a museum in her theme park, Dollywood. – Kenneth Chaw
Jolene is for everyone who has doubted if they’re pretty or funny enough to be their lover’s first choice. She draws from personal experience once again. The story goes that whenever Parton’s husband went to the bank, he got a lot of attention from a particular redhead bank teller.
She bares her vulnerabilities here, singing about another bigger catch that has just walked into her lover’s life. It’s heartbreaking to hear but haven’t we all been there? It works because it’s oh-so-relatable. – KC
I Will Always Love You (1974)
Sure, everyone knows the Whitney Houston version, but Parton’s original rendition of her own song back in 1974 was a heartbreakingly bittersweet tune that delivers the message of unrequited love in a much more subtle way than Houston’s more dramatic take. – Michael Cheang
9 To 5 (1980)
In less than three minutes, Dolly Parton summarised some of the struggles people go through working in an office from 9am to 5pm. The upbeat tune may have been released in 1980 as the title track for the film 9 To 5 (starring Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda) and then later as the theme song for the TV show based on the movie, but lyrics like “It’s all takin’ and no givin’; They just use your mind; And they never give you credit; It’s enough to drive you crazy, if you let it;” still apply to today’s work environment! But this is a Parton-penned number, so positive messages are there too like we must drink a cup of ambition every morning and to hold on to that dream. All in all, 9 To 5 is just a great song – from the guitar-and-drum introduction to the clickety-clack of a typewriter (complete with the ding), Parton’s twang and the always-listenable chorus. – Mumtaj Begum
Islands In The Stream (1983)
The 1980s produced some of the best duets that have stood the test of time. Diana Ross and Lionel Richie’s Endless Love, Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes’ Time Of My Life, Linda Rondstadt and Aaron Neville’s Don’t Know Much are some of the memorable ones. But, for me, the best duet from the era had to be Islands In The Stream by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers. The lyrics was not too sappy, there was no need for vocal acrobats to impress … just the earnest delivery from Parton and Rogers – who definitely have chemistry as seen in their numerous performances together – that made this song an instant classic. This number also serves as a reminder that back in the 1980s, it was a time when music fans were not ageist; Parton was well into her 30s while Rogers in his 40s when the song hit No. 1 in Billboard Hot 100 in 1983. Good songs should be about the melody and lyrics, never the age of the artistes. – Gordon Kho