Cracker Jack

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Songfacts®:

  • Although she recorded the track in 1973, this wasn't included on Jolene until the album's 2007 re-release. The sentimental tune finds Dolly Parton reminiscing about her childhood best friend, a stray dog she rescued named Cracker Jack. She was inspired by the unconditional love dogs provide and the lasting impact they have after they've gone.

    She explained in her 2020 book, Songteller: "I love dogs. I love all animals, and I write a lot of songs about them. 'Cracker Jack' is based on different family members who had dogs and lost them. Your dog always lives in memory. Even though they don't live as long as people, dogs leave lasting memories. You might get another dog with a different name, but you'll always remember that other dog, especially if it was your first one.

    And like Cracker Jack, your first dog in your childhood can help you through a lot of problems. Cracker Jack only lives in memories now, but he was the best friend I ever had; more than that, he was a playmate, a companion with love and understanding. That's what pets are. They have that unconditional love. You can tell them anything, and they accept it. And they won't tell anyone your secrets."
  • The song's story was adapted for the fourth episode of the 2019 Netflix anthology series Dolly Parton's Heartstrings. It follows four childhood friends who look to the past to help them overcome their current struggles. Lucy Jane (Sarah Shahi), who has just been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, remembers her heroic dog, Cracker Jack, who died while facing off against a rattlesnake. In a twist of fate, a new dog comes into her life just when she needs one.
  • Jolene, her 13th solo album, marked a pivotal time in Dolly's career when she decided to break free from her longtime musical partnership with Porter Wagoner, who helped launch her career. She wrote the bittersweet ballad "I Will Always Love You" about the split, which was one of two #1 Country hits from the album. The other was the title track, which also crossed over to the Hot 100 pop chart at #60.

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