In The Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad)

Album: In The Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad) (1969)
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Songfacts®:

  • The title track of Dolly Parton's third solo album paints a bleak picture of the singer's impoverished childhood, when she often went to bed cold and hungry in the one-room cabin she shared with her large family in the Great Smoky Mountains region of Tennessee. Although she has fond memories of her upbringing, which she chronicled on her 1973 album My Tennessee Mountain Home, she never wants to relive the experience. She sings in the chorus:

    No amount of money could buy from me
    The memories that I have of then
    No amount of money could pay me
    To go back and live through it again
  • The hardship proved to be a wellspring for Dolly's creativity, inspiring many of her most-loved tunes, including the 1971 hit "Coat Of Many Colors." She explained in her 2020 book, Songteller: "All of that environment and lifestyle that I was born into I've been able to use in my songwriting. Because my heart and mind are always open to every feeling. As a songwriter and as a person, I have to leave myself wide open. I suffer a lot, because I am open to so much. I hurt a lot, and when I hurt, I hurt all over. Because I can't harden my heart to protect myself. I always say that I strengthen the muscles around my heart, but I can't harden it."
  • This was the album's only single. It peaked at #25 on the Country chart.
  • This was also recorded by country singers stars Merle Haggard, Jeannie Seely, and Skeeter Davis.
  • Parton included a re-recorded version on My Tennessee Mountain Home.
  • Dolly struggled to find her footing as a solo artist in the late '60s. In 1967, she joined The Porter Wagoner Show as a singer and started a fruitful musical partnership with the TV show's namesake. That same year, they released their first of many hit duets, "The Last Thing On My Mind." But her solo singles only brought her moderate success until a cover of "Mule Skinner Blues" hit #3 Country in 1970, followed by her first solo chart-topper, "Joshua," in 1971.

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