Dolly Parton Once Said That She Didn’t Think Johnny Cash Was A “Good Singer”

Dolly Parton country music
Facebook/Dolly Parton

It’s no secret that Dolly Parton had a huge crush on the Man in Black back in the day.

And though it kinda goes without saying, even Dolly couldn’t resist Johnny Cash’s undeniable charisma, charm and all-around good looks that made him one of the most recognizable and iconic artists in all of music.

I mean, who could blame the girl? I certainly don’t think she’s only lady who would tell you that…

She said specifically that she realized the first time she saw him in-person was when she realized what sex appeal was:

“Johnny Cash was the person that introduced me that night. And Johnny, first time I saw him, that’s when I really, that’s when he was lean and lanky, and that’s when I first realized what sex appeal was.

I was 13 years old, it was like ‘Oh!’ It was like, holy moly, what is this? And then, little did I know, he’d be the first person to introduce me on the Opry.”

And you can watch Johnny’s reaction to that comment years later on Ralph Emory On The Record HERE, it’s precious.

In a lengthy interview for her iconic 1978 Playboy Magazine cover, Dolly revealed a pretty surprising opinion on Johnny, who I think many, if not most, country music fans would put on their Mt. Rushmore of greats…

She admitted that she didn’t actually think he was a “good singer,” but has that je ne sais quoi about him that people can’t resist which is what makes him so special and legendary:

“Johnny is dramatic. I don’t think Johnny is a good singer, but I think he is one of those people that is so believable that people can relate to it.

He’s got a way of deliverin’; you just know that it had to happen if Johnny said so.”

And while this interview is 45 years old, it’s still pretty shocking to hear Dolly say that, though, once again, she’s extremely honest and I think certainly didn’t mean anything negative by saying that… quite the opposite, actually.

To be fair, she made similar comments about herself earlier in the interview too, saying she doesn’t think she has a “great voice,” either.

Dolly added that she wants to be appreciated as a writer first and foremost:

“I like to be appreciated as a writer and, if not a great singer, at least a stylist and an original, creative person.

I don’t have a great voice. I have a different voice and I can do things with it that a lot of people can’t. But it’s so delicate in other ways, there’s no way I can do some of the things other singers can.

I just love to sing. It is joyful, it’s something I can scream, it’s a release for me.”

Though, whoever told her she used to sound like she’d been eating billy goat because of the natural vibrato in her voice needs to go get their hearing checked…

“I used to have a lot of vibrato in my voice. It could almost be real irritating to a lot of people’s ears.

It was a natural thing for me, but some people say, ‘You sound like you been eating billy goat.’ Bah, bah. I guess I overdone it, so I tried to learn at takin’ some of the vibrato out. I would like to improve my voice to be able to hit better notes.

My notes are not always true. But my heart is always true. And the emotion I put in is always true.”

In 2023, Dolly’s still impressively goin’ like she was four decades ago, as she’s gearing up to release her first full-blown rock and roll album, Rockstar, on November 17th.

The record, inspired in large part by her husband Carl Dean and his love of the genre, features an absolutely all-star cast full of rock icons and legends on a good majority of the songs.

She’s already put out several really cool singles and collaborations with some of the biggest names in music, from “Magic Man (Carl Version) ft. Ann Wilson,” ‘“Bygones ft. Rob Halford with special guests Nikki Sixx & John 5,” and a mashup Queen’s multi-Platinum mega hits “We Are The Champions” and “We Will Rock You.”

She even got The Beatles back together… enough said.

Not to mention, Dolly is due to have several of the songs featured on upcoming Monday Night Football broadcasts, including last week when a clip of her duet with Chris Stapleton of Bob Seger’s “Night Moves” debuted. 

She most recently released a reimagined version of “What’s Up?” featuring Linda Perry a couple weeks ago:


A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock