Jolene (song)

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Dolly jolene single cover.jpg
Single by Dolly Parton
from the album Jolene
B-side"Love, You're So Beautiful Tonight"
ReleasedOctober 15, 1973
RecordedMay 22, 1973
StudioRCA Studio B (Nashville, Tennessee)
LabelRCA Victor
Songwriter(s)Dolly Parton
Producer(s)Bob Ferguson
Dolly Parton singles chronology
"Traveling Man"
"I Will Always Love You"
Music video
"Jolene" (audio) on YouTube

"Jolene" is a song written and performed by American country music artist Dolly Parton. It was produced by Bob Ferguson and recorded at RCA Studio B in Nashville, Tennessee on May 22, 1973. It was released on October 15, 1973, by RCA Victor, as the first single and title track from her album of the same name.

The song was ranked No. 217 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time" in 2004 and according to Parton, is her most-covered song.


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.[1][2]

The thumb-picked guitar on the recording is by Chip Young.[3]

During an interview on The Bobby Bones Show in 2018, Dolly Parton revealed that she wrote "Jolene" on the same day that she wrote "I Will Always Love You".[4][5]


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. Onstage in 1988, Dolly told the audience "Jolene" was a true story and the reason she did not like to sing it too often.[6]

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".[7]


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, the song had sold 935,000 digital copies in the US since it became available for digital download.[8]

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.[9] 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.[9]

Cultural status[edit]

The song was ranked No. 217 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of "the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time" in 2004.[10] According to Parton, "Jolene" is the song most recorded by other artists of all the songs she has written.[1]

"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.[11]

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.

The song's international popularity became apparent 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."[12]

Charts and certifications[edit]

The White Stripes version[edit]

"Jolene (Live Under Blackpool Lights)"
Jolene (under blackpool light).jpg
Single by the White Stripes
from the album Under Blackpool Lights
ReleasedNovember 20, 2004
Songwriter(s)Dolly Parton
Producer(s)Jack White
The White Stripes singles chronology
"There's No Home for You Here"
"Jolene (Live Under Blackpool Lights)"
"Blue Orchid"

"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 Flanders. 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.[32]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Jolene (Live Under Blackpool Lights)"
  2. "Black Math (Live Under Blackpool Lights)" (only on CD version)
  3. "Do (Live Under Blackpool Lights)" (only on vinyl flip side)


Chart (2004–2005) Peak
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[33] 28
Belgium (Ultratip Wallonia)[34] 12
Ireland (IRMA)[35] 42
Norway (VG-lista)[36] 12
Scotland (OCC)[37] 16
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[38] 55
UK Singles (OCC)[39] 16
UK Indie (OCC)[40] 1

Pentatonix version[edit]

Single by Pentatonix featuring Dolly Parton
from the album PTX, Vol. IV - Classics
ReleasedSeptember 16, 2016
Songwriter(s)Dolly Parton
Pentatonix singles chronology
"If I Ain't Got You"
Dolly Parton singles chronology
"Forever Country"
"Head Over High Heels"

In September 2016, the American a cappella group Pentatonix released a cover of the song with Dolly Parton herself as feature artist.[41] The cover won the Grammy Award for Best Country Duo/Group Performance.


Chart (2016) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[42] 92
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[43] 84
New Zealand Heatseekers (Recorded Music NZ)[44] 5
Scotland (OCC)[45] 93
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)[46] 1
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[47] 18

Other cover versions[edit]

Answer songs[edit]

Kirsty MacColl's 1995 song "Caroline" was inspired by "Jolene" and is told from the other woman's point of view.

In 2013, country singer Jennifer Nettles recorded "That Girl", which she stated in interviews is a lyrical counterpoint to "Jolene".[53][54] 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.

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."[55]

During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, linguist Gretchen McCulloch wrote a parody of the song entitled "Vaccine", inspired by Parton's $1 million donation funding research on a coronavirus vaccine. The parody was sung by English professor Ryan Cordell, and the video went viral.[56] Dolly Parton broke into parody herself, singing "Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, I'm begging of you please don't hesitate" as she got a 'dose of her own medicine' in a March 2021 vaccination.[57]

Chapel Hart released an answer song in 2021 titled "You Can Have Him Jolene".[58]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Dolly Parton's 'Jolene' Still Haunts Singers". NPR. October 9, 2008.
  2. ^ Simon Usborne (July 1, 2014). "Glastonbury 2014: So who's Jolene?". The Independent.
  3. ^ Gold, Adam (December 22, 2014). "Chip Young, Legendary Nashville Session Guitarist and Producer, Dies at 76". Nashville Scene.
  4. ^ "Dolly Parton Wrote 'Jolene' and 'I Will Always Love You' in One Day". March 19, 2019. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  5. ^ Palma, Bethania (October 25, 2019). "Did Dolly Parton write 'Jolene' and 'I Will Always Love You' in one day?". Retrieved December 28, 2019.
  6. ^ YouTube, live January 10, 1988; published January 31, 2011; retrieved May 17, 2020
  7. ^ Dolly Parton's America: The Only One For Me, Jolene, at WNYC; published November 19, 2019; retrieved January 17, 2020
  8. ^ a b Bjorke, Matt (December 8, 2019). "Top 30 Digital Country Tracks – Pure Sales: December 9, 2019". Rough Stock. Retrieved December 30, 2019.
  9. ^ a b Copsey, Rob (January 19, 2017). "Happy Birthday Dolly Parton! Her most downloaded songs in the UK revealed". Official Charts Company. Retrieved March 21, 2017.
  10. ^ "The RS 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. December 9, 2004.
  11. ^ "Dolly Parton and Pentatonix win country duo/roup performance award for 'Jolene'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 10, 2017.
  12. ^ "NZ going into lockdown: 10 essential things you need to know about Covid-19". Noted. March 25, 2020. Retrieved March 25, 2020.
  13. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  14. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 21, No. 3, March 02 1974". RPM. Archived from the original on August 21, 2017. Retrieved October 30, 2012.
  15. ^ "Adult Contemporary – Volume 21, No. 2, February 23, 1974". RPM. Archived from the original on August 21, 2017. Retrieved October 30, 2012.
  16. ^ "Country Singles – Volume 21, No. 1, February 16, 1974". RPM. Archived from the original on March 23, 2016. Retrieved October 30, 2012.
  17. ^ " – Dolly Parton – Jolene". Tracklisten.
  18. ^ "flavour of new zealand - search listener".
  19. ^ "SA Charts 1965 – March 1989". Retrieved September 5, 2018.
  20. ^ " – Dolly Parton – Jolene". Singles Top 100.
  21. ^ "Dolly Parton Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  22. ^ "Cashbox Top 100: January 12, 1974". Retrieved February 10, 2021.
  23. ^ "Chart Search Results – Adult Contemporary 1974-02-23". Retrieved October 30, 2012.
  24. ^ "Dolly Parton Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved November 2, 2012.
  25. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Jolene". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  26. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  27. ^ "Billboard Hot Country Songs – Year-End Charts (1974)". Billboard. Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  28. ^ "Top 100 1976 – UK Music Charts". Retrieved December 4, 2020.
  29. ^ "Danish single certifications – Dolly Parton – Jolene". IFPI Denmark. Retrieved March 12, 2021.
  30. ^ "British single certifications – Dolly Parton – Jolene". British Phonographic Industry.Select singles in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Jolene in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  31. ^ "American single certifications – Dolly Parton – Jolene". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  32. ^ "Readers' Poll: The Greatest Live Cover Songs". Rolling Stone. February 12, 2013.
  33. ^ " – The White Stripes – Jolene" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  34. ^ " – The White Stripes – Jolene" (in French). Ultratip. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  35. ^ " – Discography The White Stripes". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved January 19, 2020.
  36. ^ " – The White Stripes – Jolene". VG-lista. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  37. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  38. ^ " – The White Stripes – Jolene". Singles Top 100. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  39. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  40. ^ "Official Independent Singles Chart Top 50". Official Charts Company. Retrieved December 24, 2018.
  41. ^ "Jolene (feat. Dolly Parton) – Single by Pentatonix on Apple Music". September 16, 2016. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
  42. ^ "ARIA CHART WATCH #387". auspOp. September 24, 2016. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
  43. ^ "Pentatonix Chart History (Canadian Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved October 3, 2016.
  44. ^ "NZ Heatseekers Singles Chart". Recorded Music NZ. September 26, 2016. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
  45. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
  46. ^ "Pentatonix Chart History (Bubbling Under Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
  47. ^ "Pentatonix Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
  48. ^ a b "10 Awesome Renditions of Dolly Parton's "Jolene"". February 24, 2016. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
  49. ^ "آلبوم بوی توقف لیلا فروهر". Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  50. ^ "Music Agnes Chan". March 4, 2021. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  51. ^ "Sherrié Austin – Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved December 20, 2016.
  52. ^ Miley Cyrus - The Backyard Sessions - "Jolene", retrieved March 16, 2021
  53. ^ Hudak, Joseph. ""That Girl" by Jennifer Nettles". Country Weekly. American Media, Inc. Retrieved November 4, 2013.
  54. ^ Scott, Jason. "Jennifer Nettles, "That Girl" – Single Review". Nashville Gab. Retrieved November 4, 2013.
  55. ^ Betts, Stephen L (October 27, 2017). "Hear Cam's "Jolene"-Inspired New Song "Diane"". Rolling Stone Country. Retrieved October 27, 2017.
  56. ^ "'Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vacciiiiiiiiiiiiiine': Northeastern professor performs rendition of Dolly Parton's hit - The Boston Globe".
  57. ^ From 'Jolene' To Vaccine: Dolly Parton Gets COVID-19 Shot She Helped Fund, Rachel Treisman, National Public Radio, 3 March 2021
  58. ^ Nicholson 3/17/2021, Jessica. "PREMIERE: Chapel Hart Offers Defiant Spin On Dolly Parton Classic With "You Can Have Him Jolene"". CMT News.

External links[edit]