A Gamble Either Way

Album: Burlap & Satin (1983)
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Songfacts®:

  • Dolly Parton originally wrote this tune, which tells the story of a wayward girl who falls into a life of prostitution, for the 1982 musical comedy The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas. It ended up being cut from the film, but Dolly earned a Golden Globe nomination for her starring role as a brothel madam.
  • Dolly has written a few songs from the perspective of a prostitute, such as "My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy," but this one was inspired by a real person. Like Dolly, one of her distant cousins grew up in poverty and longed for a better life. Hoping to become a model, she ran off to New York but found work as an escort instead.

    "She worked in the prostitution business for years and years and years," Dolly explained in her 2020 book, Songteller. "She eventually met someone, like the Julia Roberts character in Pretty Woman. She later married and had a wonderful life. She turned out to be a wonderful person. But that's where I started from to make up that song's story."
  • Dolly included this as an album track on Burlap & Satin, her 25th solo album.
  • In the summer of 1983, a few months after Burlap & Satin dropped, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers released their duet "Islands in the Stream." It was Dolly's second #1 hit on the Hot 100 (the first was "9 to 5").

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