Dolly Parton’s version of her biggest song, “I Will Always Love You,” performed well on the country charts back in the day. It became an enduring global hit, though, when Whitney Houston recorded her version. Now, Parton thinks that a modern star could do something similar with another classic song of hers from the same period, “Jolene.”
Parton told The Big Issue, “‘Jolene’ has been recorded more than any other song that I have ever written. It has been recorded worldwide over 400 times in lots of different languages, by lots of different bands. The White Stripes did a wonderful job of it, and many other people. But nobody’s ever had a really big hit record on it. I’ve always hoped somebody might do [that] someday, someone like Beyonce.”
In the piece, she also wrote about the song’s background, revealing (as she has before) that it was possibly written on the same day as “I Will Always Love You,” saying, “‘Jolene’ and ‘I Will Always Love You’ were on the same album [1974’s Jolene]. In fact, they came from the same cassette, so it is possible that I wrote those two songs in the same day. ‘Jolene’ is a song about… you know, I’ve got my pride and I’ve got my strength. But when I write a song, I’m vulnerable at those moments. I leave my heart out on my sleeve. I’ve always said I have to leave my heart open in order to receive those kind of songs. I have to feel everything to be a real songwriter. And yes, a lot of my songs are kind of melancholy. Some of them are sad, and some of them are pitiful. And I mean for them to be pitiful, those really sad songs like ‘Little Sparrow’ or ‘Jeannie’s Afraid Of The Dark.’ I have a big imagination and I become whoever I’m writing about. It’s like starring in a movie; I am that character in that song. So when I wrote it, I was ‘Jolene.'”
Read the full piece here.