Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’: 10 Best Covers

Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” with its pleading-to-the-other-woman cries of “please don’t take my man,” has endured over the past half-century. Hundreds of artists have offered up their own renditions of the song— the most recent being musical powerhouse Beyoncé, who included a more steely-eyed, daring reimagination of the song, with revamped lyrics, on her new album Act II: Cowboy Carter.

Parton previously recounted how she came up with the song’s titular name, telling NPR, “One night, I was on stage, and there was this beautiful little girl — she was probably 8 years old at the time,” Parton said. “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.’”

While the title came from a fan, the song’s lyrics came from Parton’s own heartbreak, spurred by a redheaded bank teller who had shown interest in Parton’s husband.

“She got this terrible crush on my husband,” Parton said. “And he just loved going to the bank because she paid him so much attention. It was kinda like a running joke between us — when 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.”

“Jolene,” which the prolific singer-songwriter Parton wrote solo, debuted on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart in 1973 and peaked atop the chart in February 1974. The song became one of Parton’s most iconic songs and “Jolene” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2014. Last month, the album Jolene, which contains Parton’s iconic song, reached its 50th anniversary.

From faithful country-tinged renderings, full-on rock anthems and complete re-envisionings of the song, we look at 10 of the top covers of Parton’s “Jolene.”

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