Every week, Rich Terfry looks back in our Rear-view Mirror at a great song from the good ol’ days. This week, Dolly Parton and "Jolene".
There are several myths and legends about Dolly Parton's song "Jolene." It's been said that the song is about a bank teller who had been flirting with her husband. There's another story about a ten-year-old girl named Jolene who asked Parton for her autograph after a concert. But the real story is that of Parton striking out on her own after parting ways with her long-time mentor, Porter Wagoner.
Listen to the audio version of Rear-View Mirror by hitting the play button.
Wagoner gave Dolly Parton her first big break in 1967 when he invited her into his fold and gave her a spot on his wildly popular TV and road shows. Soon he became her manager and helped negotiate her first record deal. Single handedly, Wagoner put Parton on the map.
They sang countless duets together and were named vocal group of the year in 1968 by the Country Music Association. For the next several years, it seemed the duo could do no wrong. Together they made hit after hit. But as this was happening, Parton's solo recordings were being ignored. She had every reason to believe she'd be nothing without Porter Wagoner.
But Dolly, being the fiercely driven performer that she is, needed to prove to herself and the world that she could do it on her own. So, in 1973, she made the painful decision to start cutting her ties with the man who opened the door for her. She poured that anguish into a song called "I Will Always Love You."
For as painful a time as it was for Dolly, it was also a time of great inspiration. She wrote "Jolene" within a few days of "I Will Always Love You."
"Jolene" was her first single after Dolly made the decision to embark on her solo career. It was released in October of 1973 and reached the number one position on the country charts in the U.S. and Canada in February of '74. It was also her first song to cross over to the pop charts. "I Will Always Love You" followed suit a few months later. By the middle of 1975, Dolly had five number one hits in a row and a bona fide superstar was born.
She now holds the record for the most number one hits by a female artist in country music history.
Here's the song that started it all for Dolly Parton's solo career.
Here are some other great editions of Rear-view Mirror:
The Left Banke "Walk Away Renee"
Lou Reed "Walk On The Wild Side"
James Taylor "Fire And Rain"
The Clash "Should I Stay or Should I Go"
Marvin Gaye "Sexual Healing"
Radiohead "Paranoid Android"
M.I.A. "Paper Planes"
The Animals "We Gotta Get Out of this Place"
Dusty Springfield "Son of a Preacher Man"
Screamin' Jay Hawkins "I Put A Spell On You"
Cheap Trick "Surrender"
Mott The Hoople "All the Young Dudes"
Beach Boys "Sloop John B"
Amy Winehouse "Rehab"
New York Dolls "Personality Crisis"
Modern Lovers "Roadrunner"
George Jones "He Stopped Loving Her Today"
Bruce Springsteen "Born in the USA"
The Beatles "With A Little Help From My Friends"
Rolling Stones 'Miss You'
The Coasters 'Run Red Run'
Elvis Costello, 'Alison'
James Brown, 'Hot (I Need to be loved loved loved)'
Inner Circle, 'Tenement Yard'
Ray Charles, 'I Don't Need No Doctor'
Curtis Mayfield, 'Freddy's Dead'
Gang Starr, 'Beyond Comprehension'
Bo Diddley, 'Bo Diddley'
Aretha Franklin, 'Rocksteady'
CCR, 'Have You Ever Seen the Rain'
Howlin' Wolf, 'Smokestack Lightning'
Bobby Womack, 'Across 110th Street'
Roy Orbison, 'In Dreams'
Foggy Hogtown Boys, 'Man of Constant Sorrow'
Pink Floyd, 'Wish You Were Here'
Neil Young, 'Cortez The Killer'
Bob Dylan, 'Subterranean Homesick Blues'
Little Eva, 'Loco-Motion'
Elvis Costello, 'Watching the Detectives'
Jimmy Cliff, 'The Harder They Come'
The Verve, 'Bittersweet Symphony'
Roberta Flack, 'Killing Me Softly with his Song'
R.E.M., 'Radio Free Europe'
Radiohead, 'No Surprises'
Led Zeppelin, 'Ramble On'
Glen Campbell, 'Wichita Lineman'
Rolling Stones, 'Beast of Burden'
John Cougar Mellencamp, 'Pink Houses'
on Jan 30, 2013