Dolly Parton is set to headline this year’s Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving halftime show, and I’m sure she’ll be singing several news song from her brand new Rockstar album.
But she has a hit that’s probably much more suited for the holiday, a little tune you may have heard before called “Coat of Many Colors.”
With Thanksgiving just a few days away, I wanted to take a look at the story behind this song, which was inspired by a coat her mom made her when she was growing up dirt poor in the hills of East Tennessee, just like she says in the song.
Her mom sewed the coat together with rags people gave Dolly’s family, and as she worked, her mother told her children the story of Joseph in the Bible, as he had his own Coat of Many Colors which was given to him by his father Jacob and a very significant part of his story.
The coat and meaning behind it taught Dolly to be proud of and thankful for what she had, even if it meant nothing to anyone else:
“And oh, I couldn’t understand it For I felt I was rich And I told ’em of the love My momma sewed in every stitch And I told ’em all the story Momma told me while she sewed And how my coat of many colors Was worth more than all their clothes”
A solo write by Dolly, “Coat of Many Colors” was released in September 1971 as the second single and title track to her Coat of Many Colors album. It peaked at #4 on the U.S. Hot Country Songs chart later that year.
She actually got the idea and initially penned the track in 1969 while traveling with Porter Wagoner on a tour bus, but ironically, she had to write it on the back of a dry cleaning receipt from one of his famous one-of-a-kind coats because she had no other paper on the bus.
While it’s easy to get caught up in the grind of daily life, and plenty of hardships happen to us and our loved ones all the time, this song never fails to remind me of everything I have to be grateful for, even when that can be really hard to find and reflect on.
Dolly has always been proud of who she is and where she comes from, and even if it wasn’t a lot to someone else, it meant everything to her and has clearly shaped her into the incredible person and country icon she has become.
If a more perfect country song to listen to on Thanksgiving exists, I haven’t heard it yet…