Dolly Parton’s “The Bargain Store” Was Actually Banned From Radio Because It Was “Too Suggestive”

Dolly Parton country music

If you can believe it, even Dolly Parton has had a song or two banned from the radio.

On this date in 1975, she released “The Bargain Store,” which according to Showbiz, was banned at almost every radio station when most DJ’s across the country refused to play her it because they viewed a lot of the lyrics as “suggestive.”

Specifically, they didn’t like the line “you can easily afford the price,” which they (incorrectly) viewed as a thinly veiled reference to prostitution, though in the context of the song, it’s pretty obvious that’s not what it meant:

“Why you take for instance this old broken heart
If you will just replace the missing part
You would be surprised to find how good it really is
Take it and you never will be sorry that you did

The bargain store is open, come inside
You can easily afford the price
Love is all you need to purchase all the merchandise
And I can guarantee you’ll be completely satisfied”

And while Dolly has certainly been a pioneer for woman not only in country music, but in general, she says she never thought of the song in that way at all:

“When I wrote ‘The Bargain Store,’ I swear on my life that I was never thinking about love in any vulgar way.

Somehow, this lyric is a dirty thing to a man. But I never saw it that way. Every man I know thinks it’s dirty.”

I wish I was surprised by that, but I’m really not… but it does make for quite a funny story.

She told the whole tale in her book Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics that came out a couple years ago, explaining that she was using the concept of a “bargain” as a metaphor for a potential relationship:

“All I was thinking of was the heart: ‘If you don’t mind the merchandise is slightly used, with a little mending it can be good as new.’

I was saying that you’ll be surprised at how good this broken heart is. Just take it. You’ll never be sorry that you did. Just come inside, come inside my heart.

The words just meant that I’ve had relationships: I’ve been through stuff; I’m not new at this.”

She also notes she was surprised to see the hesitancy from radio stations in terms of actually playing the song, because she knew how good it was when she wrote it and believed it could be a hit:

“I thought for sure that I had written a hit song. And then the disc jockeys wouldn’t play it.”

Honestly, the funniest part of the whole debacle is what she says next:

“At that time, they were so difficult. Now you can show something much stronger on TV, and people don’t think a thing about it.”

You’re preaching to the choir, Mrs. Dolly.

It really makes you wonder what she thinks about radio now, seeing as not only will they play songs which are far more suggestive than this one, they’re not all that interested in even playing actual country music anymore.

And as to how well the song did once the DJs finally decided to play it?

Well, it ended up becoming her fifth #1 hit as a solo country artist on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart that year, because it ended up picking up so steam at the stations that would actually put it in the rotation.

You simply can’t touch a Queen…

“The Bargain Store”

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock