Heartbreak Express

Album: Heartbreak Express (1982)
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Songfacts®:

  • In this upbeat tale of romantic woe, Dolly Parton says so long to a love gone wrong and escapes on a train called the Heartbreak Express. The title track to her 24th solo album, it peaked at #7 on the County chart. According to Dolly, the song is saying, "I've just gotta get up, get on this train, and get out of here. I've got to move on down the line and get right on out of this heartache."
  • This was written during a low period in the singer's personal life when she was forced to slow down and face her problems head on. Dolly started the '80s off on a high note with a starring role in the smash comedy 9 to 5. She also performed the film's title theme song, which became a #1 hit and earned her two Grammy Awards. From the outside it looked like she had it all, but behind the scenes she was struggling with health issues that were taking a severe mental and physical toll. It came to a head in 1982, when she collapsed onstage from the pain of endometriosis, a progressive gynecological condition. A few years later, she had to undergo a partial hysterectomy, which meant she could never bear children.

    "When I look back, I really feel like everything in my life has been for a reason. I think God just smacked me down. That was a hard time, but it made me understand other people a lot better," she recalled in her 2020 book, Songteller. "I related to how alcoholics become alcoholics. I related to how drug addicts become drug addicts. Sometimes your pain is just so great you can't hardly bear it on your own. I completely had an insight into other people's sorrows. I had to take a good look at myself. I had to tear everything down, reshape myself, and get some priorities in order, so that I could pick up, move on, and become bigger than I ever was before. And I think that's exactly what happened."

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