Dolly Parton Receives Full Writing Credit For Beyoncé’s Completely Reimagined Version Of “Jolene”

Dolly Parton Beyonce country music
Youtube/Dolly Parton/Beyoncé/Parkwood Entertainment

I’m sure Dolly Parton will enjoy the royalty checks from this one.

Last Friday, pop/R&B superstar Beyoncé released her country-inspired album Cowboy Carter, which features from icons like the aforementioned Mrs. Dolly, as well as Willie Nelson, but is, for all intents and purposes, “not a country album, it’s a Beyoncé’ album.”

And of course, one of the songs many people are talking bout is Beyoncé’s reimagined version of Dolly’s iconic country song, “Jolene.” It’s nothing like the original, though, and Beyoncé completely redid it in terms of the production, and mostly, the songwriting.

It’s rewritten from top to bottom, aside from the “Jolene” part in the chorus, and Dolly had previously requested that Beyoncé cover her song, though she clearly took some major liberties with it that Dolly herself loves.

But in the song credits, Dolly is listed as the sole writer, even though there were likely many involved in this 2024 version of “Jolene.” It was a bit of a surprise, seeing as it’s not really the original “Jolene” at all and one would think the new writers would also be included, though my guess is that Dolly only agreed to let her rework it if she got to keep the publishing, which means she’s keeping most of the money. Or Beyoncé just wanted to do it that way… it’s kind of hard to say.

Dolly is famously serious abut her publishing, though (for good reason), and even denied Elvis the rights to cover “I Will Always Love You” after his manager notoriously demanded they receive full, or at least half, of the publishing rights. It’s a little bit tricky and I don’t want to get too into the weeds on this, but basically, if the song has already been recorded and released, anyone can cover it without permission.

But, royalties must be paid to the original songwriter(s) if it’s published or sold, and it comes with extra paperwork and other things but like I said, that super specific and pretty boring to go into detail about.

The point is, not only is Dolly a music icon, but she’s a damn good businesswoman too… and that song is easily one of the fan-favorite so far, already has over five million streams on Spotify, and is currently at #1 on the iTunes songs chart:

Dolly Parton country music

Dolly actually introduces the song on Cowboy Carter, calling in to leave a message for Bey, saying:

“Hey Mrs. Honeybee, it’s Dolly P. You know that hussy with the good hair you sing about? Reminded me of someone I knew back when.

Except she has flaming locks of auburn hair. Bless her heart. Just a hair of a different color, but it hurts just the same.”

That “hussy with the good hair” is a character Beyoncé fans know as “Becky,” who is featured on her 2016 Grammy-nominated Lemonade album, which focused on infidelity in her marriage with her husband Jay-Z:

Then, it goes straight into “JOLENE,” which is completely rewritten and much more modern than the version Queen Dolly put out in the 70’s. Beyoncé takes a much harder stance when it comes to her “Jolene,” though:

“There’s a thousand girls in every room
That act as desperate as you do
You a bird, go on and sing your tune, Jolene (What?)
I had to have this talk with you
‘Cause I hate to have to act the fool
Your peace depends on how you move, Jolene”

Beyoncé’s mom, Tina Knowles, has Louisiana Creole heritage, so fans are speculating it might a sort of tribute to her, too, because of this line… I’m not a Beyoncé expert, though, so I really can’t say one way or the other:

“Jolene, I know I’m a queen, Jolene
I’m still a Creole banjee bitch from Louisianne (Don’t try me)”

I’m sure Bey pulled inspiration from more than one place, because she really did recreate the entire song, while using the title “Jolene” and interpolating a lot of the original music. You can see what you think about it for yourself and listen here:

Willie Nelson Revisits His Radio DJ Days On ‘Cowboy Carter’

Willie is featured on two interlude radio segments called “SMOKE HOUR WILLIE NELSON,” which harken back to his early days as a radio DJ in Texas:

“Welcome to the ‘Smoke Hour’ on KNTRY Radio Texas. You know my name, no need to know yours.

Now for this next tune, I want y’all to sit back, inhale, and go to that good place your mind likes to wander off to. And if you don’t want to go, go find yourself a jukebox. Thank you.”

The second one goes like this:

“You’re tuned into KNTRY Radio Texas, home of the real deal. If there’s one thing you can take away from my set today, let it be this: Sometimes you don’t know what you like until someone you trust turns you on to some real good shit.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I’m here. Up next on the ‘Smoke Hour is ‘Just For Fun’ by Beyoncé.”

Honestly, it was pretty smart of her to bring in two of the remaining, living legends of country music to give their seal of approval:

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock