Sunday Singalong: Dolly Parton

Look at Dolly Parton in her Mad Men era, isn’t she beautiful?

Parton is famous for her sly winking ‘dumb blonde’ routine but she is obviously incredibly talented as a recognised and award-winning singer-songwriter, a multi-instrumentalist, actor and philanthropist – she’s donated huge amounts of money to literacy programs in the USA. She has composed over 3, 000 songs in her career including “I Will Always Love You”.

Parton was born in rural poverty as one of twelve children and got her break as a child singing on local radio and television. She never had children of her own but her and her husband partly raised several of her younger siblings in their Nashville home. Her exaggerated femininity and burlesque costuming have meant it has been readily assumed feminists do not embrace her but pfft to that. Almost all her famous quotes are perfect quips of feminism, including anti-homophobia and anti-classism.

“I’m not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I’m not dumb… and I also know that I’m not blonde”.

“You’d be surprised how much it costs to look this cheap!”
“I hope people realise that there is a brain underneath the hair and a heart underneath the boobs.”
“I’ve always been a freak and different, oddball even in my childhood and my own family, so I can relate to people who are struggling and trying to find their true identity. I do not sit in the seat of judgment. … I love people for who they are. We’re all God’s children.”

Oh, and Dolly’s look in this clip, how much do you love? And she wrote this song back in the late 1960’s, she was waaaay ahead of her time. Of course, she also wrote the working woman’s anthem with ‘9 to 5’.

 

I can see you’re disappointed
By the way you look at me
And I’m sorry that I’m not
The woman you thought I’d be
Yes, I’ve made my mistakes
But listen and understand
My mistakes are no worse than yours
Just because I’m a woman

So when you look at me
Don’t feel sorry for yourself
Just think of all the shame
You might have brought somebody else

Just let me tell you this
Then we’ll both know where we stand
My mistakes are no worse than yours
Just because I’m a woman

Now a man will take a good girl
And he’ll ruin her reputation
But when he wants to marry
Well, that’s a different situation

He’ll just walk off and leave her
To do the best she can
While he looks for an angel
To wear his wedding band

Now I know that I’m no angel
If that’s what you thought you’d found
I was just the victim of
A man that let me down

Yes, I’ve made my mistakes
But listen and understand
My mistakes are no worse than yours
Just because I’m a woman

No, my mistakes are no worse than yours
Just because I’m a woman

But my absolute favourite song of Dolly Parton’s is her most famous one, “Joelene”. It’s heartbreaking and catchy: “please don’t take him, just because you can”.

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
I’m begging of you please don’t take my man
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
Please don’t take him just because you can
Your beauty is beyond compare
With flaming locks of auburn hair
With ivory skin and eyes of emerald-green
Your smile is like a breath of spring
Your voice is soft like summer rain
And I cannot compete with you, Jolene

He talks about you in his sleep
There’s nothing I can do to keep
From crying when he calls your name, Jolene

And I can easily understand
How you could easily take my man
But you don’t know what he means to me, Jolene

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
I’m begging of you please don’t take my man
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
Please don’t take him just because you can

You could have your choice of men
But I could never love again
He’s the only one for me, Jolene

I had to have this talk with you
My happiness depends on you
And whatever you decide to do, Jolene

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
I’m begging of you please don’t take my man
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
Please don’t take him even though you can



Categories: arts & entertainment, Culture, fun & hobbies, gender & feminism, Life, Sociology

4 replies

  1. Dolly Parton seems to be doing some similar things with her appearance to Lady Gaga (given the respective time periods). Interesting, thanks!

  2. Do you think she may have gotten away with it if her version had been similar to the White Stripes cover, are we looking at protective camouflage, or is it a sense that the content didn’t need emphasis, in the way that Amy Winehouse covering “Will you still love me tomorrow” had to ramp it up because the dangers of the choice aren’t so apparent now?

  3. Going to have to add some Dolly to the iPod. Maybe even Islands in the Stream.

  4. Wow. Interesting disco beat to “Joelene”. It is a great song.

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