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Dolly Parton's America
So I'm going to introduce the thing, and then I'm going to hand off to you. Does that sound all right? Let's start this one by jumping back for a second. To the beginning, to the thing that first grabbed us about Dolly singing. It's that, when you talk to people about going to a Dolly Parton show, they often describe it as an alternate reality. It was the most diverse place I've ever been. You have people wearing cowboy hats and boots, people in drag, church ladies, lesbians, holding hands, little girls. It was always this picture of all of these different slices of America jammed together, groups of people that we think shouldn't get along, but there they are standing side by side, polite, singing the same song. And really, this series has been driven in part by the simple question, how does she do that?
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It was released on October 15, as the first single and title track from her album of the same name , produced by Bob Ferguson. The song was ranked No. In the film The Intervention Clea Duvall ; , 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 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. Throughout the song, Parton implores Jolene "please, don't take him just because you can. Onstage in , Dolly told the audience "Jolene" was a true story and the reason she did not like to sing it too often. In , 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.
The song is so important to Dolly, that when collaborating with Netflix to create the eight-part anthology series Heartstrings which came out on November 22 , she named an entire episode after it and had actresses Julianne Hough and Kimberly Williams-Paisley illustrate the story behind the recording. So, what do the lyrics mean? In , Dolly opened up to NPR about where she first got the idea for the now-iconic song. Even though the lyrics revolve around being jealous of another woman, the origin of "Jolene" actually came from a much more innocent place. I said, 'Well, you're the prettiest little thing I ever saw. So what is your name? That sounds like a song. I'm going to write a song about that.