It's All Wrong, But It's All Right

Album: Here You Come Again (1977)
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Songfacts®:

  • Just a few years earlier, country radio stations were reluctant to play Dolly Parton's "The Bargain Store," where she compares herself to used merchandise, because they misinterpreted her lyrics as being sexually suggestive. But with "It's All Wrong, But It's All Right," which finds the singer having a one-night stand to assuage her loneliness, her intentions were clear.

    "I never meant nothin' dirty in ['The Bargain Store']. In 'It's All Wrong, But It's All Right,' I really did," Dolly told Playboy in 1978. "I meant for it to be what it was. You know, what people call makin' love to somebody you're not married to. With lyrics like, 'Hello, are you free tonight?/I like your looks, I love your smile/could I use you for a while?' Just how plain can I be? But I thought the times would laugh at that. But there was some question about it. Even in this day and time, when you can say everything, country music is a little bit more delicate and I respect that."
  • Featured on Dolly's pop breakthrough album, Here You Come Again, this was released as a double-A-sided single with "Two Doors Down," and reached #1 on the Country chart. The other side was geared toward the pop market and peaked at #19 on the Hot 100.
  • Dolly shared her opinion of this country ballad in her 2020 book, Songteller: "I thought this was a clever title and a clever idea for a song. I've always been drawn to sexy songs, and this happens to be one of my favorites. This character in this one just kinda throws caution to the wind, as most of us have done at one time or another."
  • A song about a one-night-stand might not raise eyebrows today, but it was pretty risqué for country music at the time, especially coming from a woman's perspective. As Dolly's Songteller co-author, Robert K. Oermann explained, "As recently as a decade before, it would have been unthinkable for a country-music woman to sing this lyric about having casual sex."
  • Here You Come Again, Dolly's 19th solo album, was her first to earn a Platinum certification for more than 1 million copies sold.
  • In the 1979 movie Norma Rae, Norma Rae (Sally Field) and Sonny (Beau Bridges) sing along to this when it plays on the bar radio during their first date.

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