Honky Tonk Angels was produced by Parton and Steve Buckingham. The album had been a long-rumored project between the country singers for over a decade and received much publicity and acclaim upon its release, although its only single release, a remake of the longtime country female vocalist staple "Silver Threads and Golden Needles", barely dented the charts (its accompanying video, however, received heavy rotation from CMT and TNN). Record sales, however, placed the album at #6 on Billboard's country album chart, where it spent 24 weeks, and #42 on Billboard 200, the pop album chart becoming Wynette's second-highest ranking album on the pop chart and Lynn's highest on the pop chart until her 2004 album Van Lear Rose. It was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.
The album features many country standards, including "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" (which features a guest vocal appearance by the song's originator and the original country queen, Kitty Wells), "Wings of a Dove" (a 1960 hit for Ferlin Husky), "I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know" (a 1953 hit for The Davis Sisters (country) a.k.a. Skeeter Davis and Betty Jack Davis), "Put it Off Until Tomorrow" (a 1966 Bill Phillips hit that was Parton's first success as a songwriter), "Lovesick Blues" (a pop standard known for Hank Williams' 1949 rendition; here the trio sings along with a vintage recording of the song by Patsy Cline), and "I Dreamed of a Hillbilly Heaven", Tex Ritter's 1962 classic that features new spoken dialogue.
The original songs by Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette appear to be solo performances by each of them with harmony vocals by Parton and "Sittin' on the Front Porch Swing" appears to be a Parton solo. The recording features liner notes written by Ralph Emery.