"Jolene" is a song written and performed by American country music artist Dolly Parton. It was released on October 15, 1973 as the first single and title track from her album of the same name, produced by Bob Ferguson.
|Single by Dolly Parton|
|from the album Jolene|
|B-side||"Love, You're So Beautiful Tonight"|
|Released||October 15, 1973|
|Recorded||May 22, 1973|
|Studio||RCA Studio B (Nashville)|
|Dolly Parton singles chronology|
The song was ranked No. 217 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time" in 2004. According to Parton, "Jolene" is the song most recorded by other artists of all the songs she has written.
"Jolene" was nominated for two Grammy Awards for Best Female Country Vocal Performance (first for the original release and the following year for a live version). Despite not winning, the song eventually earned Parton a Grammy Award for Best Country Duo/Group Performance 43 years after its original release, for a cover by the a capella group Pentatonix in which she was also featured.
In the film The Intervention (Clea Duvall; 2016), Annie (Melanie Lynskey) tells Lola (Alia Shawkat), "Nobody likes a Jolene," after the younger woman stirs up trouble among a group of older couples by making a play for several individuals among them.
A sign of the international extent of the song's popularity appeared during the Covid-19 pandemic when the New Zealand government put the country in lockdown. A newspaper summary of "essential things to know" explained that washing one's hands with soap should take "as long as it takes to sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice or the chorus of Dolly Parton's hit song Jolene."
The song tells of Parton confronting Jolene, a stunningly beautiful woman, who she worries will steal away her lover/husband. Throughout the song, Parton implores Jolene "please, don't take him just because you can." The song is unclear about whether or not Jolene intends to steal Parton's lover, an ambiguity that has been addressed in several answer songs.
In 2019, the podcast Dolly Parton's America had an episode addressing the question of whether the narrator's focus on Jolene's beauty and desirability is indicative of her own romantic longings. A musicologist wrote and performed a fourth verse which makes this interpretation explicit; when the podcast's hosts played audio of this performance for Parton, she responded that this was "another take on it".
According to Parton, the song was inspired by a red-headed bank clerk who flirted with her husband Carl Dean at his local bank branch around the time they were newly married. In an interview, she also revealed that Jolene's name and appearance are based on that of a young fan who came on stage for her autograph.
The song became Parton's second solo number-one single on the country charts after being released as a single in October 1973 (prior to the album's release). It reached the top position in February 1974; it was also a moderate pop hit for her and a minor adult contemporary chart entry. As of December 2019[update], the song had sold 935,000 digital copies in the US since it became available for digital download.
The song was released as a single later in the UK, and became Parton's first top ten hit song in the country, reaching number seven in the UK Singles Chart in 1976. The song also re-entered the chart when Parton performed at the Glastonbury festival in 2014. The song has sold 255,300 digital copies in the UK as of January 2017.
Charts and certificationsEdit
The White Stripes versionEdit
|"Jolene (Live Under Blackpool Lights)"|
|Single by The White Stripes|
|from the album Under Blackpool Lights|
|Released||November 20, 2004|
|The White Stripes singles chronology|
"Jolene (Live Under Blackpool Lights)" was released as a live single by American garage rock band The White Stripes. The single reached No. 16 on the UK Singles Chart in November 2004 and also reached No. 12 in Norway and No. 28 in Flemish Belgium. The White Stripes previously released a studio version of "Jolene", as the B-side to their 2000 single of "Hello Operator", from the album De Stijl. In Australia, the song was ranked No. 10 on Triple J's Hottest 100 of 2004. Another live performance of the song is featured on the 2010 live album Under Great White Northern Lights. The White Stripes' version was voted one of the greatest live covers by readers of Rolling Stone magazine.
- "Jolene (Live Under Blackpool Lights)"
- "Black Math (Live Under Blackpool Lights)" (only on CD version)
- "Do (Live Under Blackpool Lights)" (only on vinyl flip side)
|Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)||28|
|Belgium (Ultratip Wallonia)||12|
|Scotland (Official Charts Company)||16|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||16|
|UK Indie (Official Charts Company)||1|
|Single by Pentatonix featuring Dolly Parton|
|from the album PTX, Vol. IV - Classics|
|Released||September 16, 2016|
|Pentatonix singles chronology|
|Dolly Parton singles chronology|
In September 2016, the American a cappella group Pentatonix released a cover of the song with Dolly Parton herself as feature artist. The cover won the Grammy Award for Best Country Duo/Group Performance.
|Canada (Canadian Hot 100)||84|
|New Zealand Heatseekers (Recorded Music NZ)||5|
|Scotland (Official Charts Company)||93|
|US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)||1|
|US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)||18|
Other cover versionsEdit
- Olivia Newton-John recorded a faster tempo cover of the song on her 1976 album Come On Over (Olivia Newton-John album)
- The Sisters of Mercy recorded a version of the song for BBC Radio One on March 10, 1983 hosted by David Jensen and continued to perform the song live until 2001.
- Persian artist Leila Forouhar covered this song by the name "Jolin" for her 1994 album "Do Parandeh" (Two Birds).
- Sherrié Austin's version of "Jolene" is the second track on her 2001 album Followin' A Feeling. It was released as a single, and peaked at #55 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in April 2001.
- Mindy Smith covered "Jolene" in 2003, both for her debut album One Moment More and the Dolly Parton tribute album Just Because I'm a Woman. Parton described this cover as her favorite version of the song. The version with Mindy Smith was performed on stage with Dolly Parton, who is also featured in the official music video.
- Sophie Ellis-Bextor: British singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor covered the song in 2008, and it was used on the BBC series Beautiful People.
- In 2012, Miley Cyrus (Parton's goddaughter) performed a version in a "Backyard Sessions" video found on Cyrus' official website which gained some attention.
- In 2003, as part of an episode of CMT Crossroads, the song was performed as a duet by Parton and Melissa Etheridge, with Etheridge taking lead vocals.
- In 2007, Jolene was featured on an episode of American Dad.
- The song was parodied by Australian satirical comedy show The Chaser's War on Everything. The title was altered to "Pauline" in a reference to former One Nation Party leader Pauline Hanson.
- In 2008, Icelandic artist Lay Low covered this song for the Ökutímar soundtrack. She later recorded a live version for her 2012 album Live at Home.
- In 2010, Parton's original version was featured and performed by Jessica Lowndes as Adrianna Tate-Duncan in the 90210 episode "What's Past is Prologue".
- In 2011, John Mayer, Keith Urban, and Norah Jones performed the song at the Grammy Awards as a tribute to Dolly Parton.
- In 2011, the television series Glee featured a cover of the song by Dot-Marie Jones in the episode I Kissed a Girl. It was included on the album Glee: The Music, The Complete Season Three.
- In 2013, Straight No Chaser, an a cappella group from Indiana, covered this song (with featured vocalist Dolly Parton herself) on their 2013 album Under the Influence.
- In 2013, YouTube user goodlittlebuddy's slowed-down version of "Jolene" rose to internet fame. The song was played at 33RPM instead of 45RPM, which represents a 25% slow down from the original. This version was featured during season one of the NBC television series The Blacklist.
- In March 2015, the song was parodied in the 101st episode of Community by changing the lyrics from "Jolene" to "Gay dean".
- In July 2015, a parody version aired on Austria's alternative radio station FM4, sung by the two radio show hosts Hannes Duscher and Roland Gratzer. The title was changed from "Jolene" to "Nadine", and the changed song lyrics are sung in German from Austria. This version became quite popular in Austria during the summer.
- In 2016, Composer and music producer Bryce Jacobs created a darker cinematic version of the song. Jacobs took a unique slant on the lyrics, written from the perspective of the man begging Jolene not seduce him because he knows she'll succeed and he'll ruin his own life in the process. https://www.brycejacobs.com/new-page
- In September 2017, satirist Roy Zimmerman recorded a parody entitled "Joel Osteen", criticizing Joel Osteen for his delay in offering shelter to Hurricane Harvey victims.
- In November 2018, drag queen Willam Belli released a parody called "Aileen", inspired by the serial killer Aileen Wuornos.
- In May 2019, Rip debuted his version of "Jolene" on the Grand stage at The World's Largest Brat Fest
- In May 2019, Leo Moracchioli released a metal cover on his YouTube channel.
- As a celebration for 2019's Record Store Day, art rock majorcan trio You Choose (Band) released a cover of the song transforming it into a very particular mix of many musical genres and styles.
- In 2019, The Petersens released a bluegrass version of the song which went viral on Facebook and YouTube.
Kirsty Maccoll's 1994 single "Caroline" is in-spirit response song to "Jolene", in which the Jolene character grieves the loss of her best friend (the titular Caroline) after having an affair with Caroline's husband.
In 2011, Estonian indie rock band Ewert and the Two Dragons released an answer song, also titled "Jolene", in response to the original recording. In this version, Parton's "man" directly addresses Jolene, telling her that nothing will ever happen between them and that his current lover would fight to get him back.
In 2012, Canadian indie rock band Hey Ocean! released a song titled "Jolene". The song borrows from Parton's by singing part of the chorus and then dismissing it by saying "But it ain't nothing but her favorite country song."
In 2013, country singer Jennifer Nettles recorded "That Girl", which she stated in interviews should be subtitled "The Ballad of Jolene". The song is written from the perspective of the Jolene character, who Nettle feels is unfairly maligned in the original song. In this version, the other woman is shown to have no interest in taking another woman's man, and her song is in fact framed as a warning to Parton's character that "her man" has a roving eye. The concept of Dolly Parton suffering from paranoia regarding Jolene was also discussed in S01 E03 of musical comedy podcast JimBob's Music Massacre in February 2018.
In 2013, The Beautiful South guitarist David Rotheray recorded an album of answer songs, among which is "Jolene's Song", performed by Julie Murphy. This version of Jolene is equally heartbroken to learn that the man who loves her belongs to another woman and expresses her pain at being painted as a heartless temptress by the original song.
In 2017, American singer-songwriter Cam released her single "Diane" in response to Parton's song. The song is sung from Jolene's point of view, where she sings to 'Diane', Parton's character, and states that she did not know that 'her man' was her man. Cam noted to Rolling Stone Country that the song is her "response to Dolly Parton's 'Jolene.' It's the apology so many spouses deserve, but never get. The other woman is coming forward to break the news to the wife about an affair, respecting her enough to have that hard conversation, once she realized he was married. Because everyone should be able to decide their own path in life, based on the truth. Women especially should do this for each other, since our self-worth can still be so wrapped up in our partners. And in true country fashion, I've set the whole raw story to upbeat music, so you can dance while you process it all."
The protagonist of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 6, Jolyne Cujoh, is named after the song.
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