Dolly Parton On Writing Really Sad Country Songs: “I Never Went To A Therapist, Because Songwriting Heals Me”

Dolly Parton country music

Though Dolly Parton is known for her incredibly positive and infectious attitude, she loves a good, sad country song as much as all of us.

And she addressed the deep sadness she experiences from time to time directly in her track “The Lonesomes,” which is a solo write by Dolly that was included on her 2008 Backwoods Barbie album.

She even mentions Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” in the lyrics, where she admits that there are nights when she feels sad and lonely, and nothing seems to make her feel better:

“Just like that old song by Hank Williams
I am so lonesome I could cry
Can’t seem to shake these sad old feelin’s
I’ve really got the lonesomes tonight”

In her 2020 book, Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyricsshe opened up a little bit the inspiration behind this track in particular, saying it reminded her of some of Hank’s saddest songs that are still as timeless as ever:

“I think we all get ‘The Lonesomes.’ The song reminded me of the ones that Hank Williams used to write.

It reminded me of some old-timey songs like ‘In the Pines,’ those mournful, painful songs of feeling really, really, really alone and desperate and forlorn.”

She continued, saying she can hang with one of the greatest to ever do it in country when it comes to her writing chops, because she experienced those same feelings Hank Sr. wrote about often:

“I can write them as pitiful as ol’ Hank sometimes. I ain’t as good a writer, but I think I can feel as lonesome as he did. I do get ‘The Lonesomes.'”

And not only that, but she’s able to masterfully turn her own feelings into a damn good sad country song, which is more therapeutic for her than anything else:

“That’s when the songwriting becomes therapy. I never went to a therapist, because songwriting heals me.

With my little guitar, my little head for writing songs, and my gift for rhyming, I can lift myself up.”

And seeing as she’s the undisputed Queen of Country Music (though she would never call herself that), I’d say she’s got it down to a science.

Check this one out if you haven’t heard it before:

“The Lonesomes” 

“I’m so Lonesome I Could Cry”

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock