On This Date: Dolly Parton Scores Her Second Career #1 Hit With “Jolene” In 1974

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A very important day in history.

And on this date in 1974, exactly 50 years ago, Dolly Parton scored her second #1 hit on the country charts with her iconic song “Jolene.”

Of course, I think we all know by now that it was inspired by a real life girl at the local bank, and that Dolly told her husband, Carl Dean, in no uncertain terms that he’d better find somebody else to talk to when he went in there after she found out about her.

There’s actually an incredible live performance video of Dolly singing the song just eight years ago at the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts to a whopping 180,000 fans.

The festival had been trying to book her since its inception in 1970, but it never lined up for her to be there with her touring schedule until 2014. She sang several of her hits, like “Coat of Many Colors” and “9 to 5,” but the best part was when she sang “Jolene.”

Apparently, all the other stages at the festival were empty when Dolly was on, and even other artists who were supposed to be performing ditched their slot to go watch her.

There are points during the performance that Dolly seemed somewhat surprised that thousands of fans from across the pond were singing along so passionately to every word, poignantly remarking during her set that:

“I’m just a country girl and now I feel like a rock star.”

Yes Dolly, you certainly are a rock star…

And she’s obviously a national treasure here in America, but it’s pretty damn cool to see her in a rare overseas performance so recently with a record-setting turnout in the UK.

And in terms of the inspiration behind the song, it’s not fiction at all. In an interview with NPR back in 2008, she opened up about how this song came about.

Turns out, a redheaded bank teller had quite the interest in her husband, Carl Dean, and he seemed to very much enjoy the attention and was spending a bit too much time at the bank…

“She got this terrible crush on my husband and he just loved going to the bank because she paid him so much attention.

It was kinda like a running joke between us. I was saying, ‘Hell, you’re spending a lot of time at the bank. I don’t believe we’ve got that kind of money.’ So it’s really an innocent song all around, but sounds like a dreadful one.”

Needless to say, she put a stop to this behavior but I don’t think young Dolly really had any worries…

As for the name Jolene, it actually came from a young fan who came on stage to get an autograph after one of her performances.

“One night, I was on stage, and there was this beautiful little girl… she was probably 8 years old at the time, and she had this beautiful red hair, this beautiful skin, these beautiful green eyes, and she was looking up at me, holding, you know, for an autograph.

I said, ‘Well, you’re the prettiest little thing I ever saw. So what is your name?’ And she said, ‘Jolene.’ And I said, ‘Jolene. Jolene. Jolene. Jolene.’ I said, ‘That is pretty. That sounds like a song. I’m going to write a song about that.”

And write a song she did.

If this doesn’t prove that Dolly is the absolute queen of everything, I don’t know what will… here’s to 50 more years of blaring “Jolene.

And if you’re interested in getting your copy of Jolene on vinyl, check out this gorgeous 50th anniversary repress from Vinyl Me Please.

And the original recording:

 

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