The title was inspired by an encounter with a 10-year-old fan. "She had this beautiful red hair, this beautiful skin, these beautiful green eyes, and she was looking up at me, holding [out] for an autograph," Parton recalled to NPR in 2008. "I said, 'Well, you're the prettiest little thing I ever saw. So what is your name?' And she said, 'Jolene.' And I said, 'Jolene. Jolene. Jolene. Jolene. That is pretty. That sounds like a song. I'm going to write a song about that.'"
This was written and recorded around the time Parton was leaving one-time singing partner and manager Porter Wagoner. The song became the first of five consecutive #1 Country hits and created momentum as Dolly embarked on her solo career. It was also the only one out of the five to cross over to the American Pop charts.
Some of the many artists who have covered this: The White Stripes, Reba McEntire, Olivia Newton-John and 10,000 Maniacs.
Suggestion credit: Mark - Boston, MA, for all above
The song was added to the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2014. It was Parton's second tune to receive the prestigious honor - "I Will Always Love You" was included in 2007.
Bluegrass singer Rhonda Vincent recorded a cover of this song that became a fan favorite and one of those fans happened to be Dolly Parton. She was so impressed with the version, that she invited the singer and her band to perform it at Dollywood. Rhonda was in for a big surprise when she took up Dolly's offer, she said in our interview: "Now, I thought we were just going to back her up. She's there. Isn't she going to sing it? We got there expecting to back her up, and she goes, 'Oh, no. I'm not going to sing it. You're going to sing it, and I'm going to sing harmony with you.' And all I could think of is, 'Please don't let me forget the words.' Because we are nose to nose singing her song at the theater there at Dollywood to a full house. So it was a very memorable day for us. I was so glad I remembered all the words. There's nothing like singing with Dolly."
Dolly Parton has disclosed in several interviews that the song was also inspired by a red-headed bank clerk who flirted with her husband Carl Dean around the time they were newly married. Recalling the origins of her hit tune during her performance at Glastonbury 2014, she said:
"Now, some of you may or may not know that that song was loosely based on a little bit of truth. I wrote that years ago when my husband was spending a little more time with Jolene than I thought he should be.
I put a stop to that. I got rid of that redhead woman in a hurry.
I want you folks to know, though, that something good can come from anything. Had it not been for that woman I would never have written 'Jolene' and I wouldn't have made all that money, so thank you, Jolene."
The a cappella group Pentatonix released a cover of the song with Dolly Parton herself as feature artist in September 2016. When this version entered the Top 20 of the Country chart, Parton became the first artist with Top 20 hits on the tally in the '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s and '10s.
The Pentatonix collaboration won the Grammy Award for Best Country Duo/Group Performance.
When Parton was honored with MusiCares Person Of The Year award at the Grammy Awards in 2019, she performed this song with her honorary Goddaughter, Miley Cyrus.
Melinda from AustraliaDolly Parton has since shared that ‘jolene’ was a young girl who worked at the bank her and her husband used, early in their marriage. Back In the early 1970’s. However, the young bank girl wasn’t called Jolene. Dolly Parton states she was a red head, who Dolly became aware her husband was flirting with all the time. Dolly became very anxious about losing her husband. Dolly Parton has a particularly good and long marriage. He has always been a farmer. And she has always been an entertainer. And They have a big farm. They have had an unusually successful marriage for people in the music industry. From what I remember reading, Dolly Parton did not go berserk when she discovered this flirting going on. She approached the tricky situation very carefully. She said it was the only time in her marriage she had to worry.
Jennifur Sun from RamonaCrackerstar AMEN my second fav song of Miss Dolly. the other, which I wish i could find out if there is a story behind it, is Melina.
Ronnie from Springfield MaI had a girlfriend her name was Jolene we were middle school lovers she was 15 and I was 13 crazy things happen when I first heard this song I wanted her back in my arms one last time.
Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn April 20th 1959, Louisiana's Goldband Records released "Puppy Love" by Dolly Parton; she was thirteen years old at the time but it was actually recorded two years earlier... Eight years later in 1967 she would have her first nationally charted record, "Dumb Blonde", it peaked at #24 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart... And in 1973 she made Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart for the first time with "Jolene", it reached #60... Ms. Parton celebrated her 68th birthday three months ago on January 19th.
Jolene from Geneva, OhMy name is Jolene... when i was little i loved this and i still do cause its the whole reason how i got my name... When i was born my dad started to sing the song and from then i was named Jolene.
Carolyn from Knoville, TnI had never heard the name "Jolene" before, but I thought it was a beautiful name. When my daughter was born in October 1974, I named her Jolene. Now, almost 40 years later, when we go to Dollywood, this song is still playing. We laugh about it every time we hear it, because when Jolene was growing up, all she heard from people was: "Did you know there's a song called Jolene?". Dolly is a truly gifted songwriter, singer, actress and entertainer, and a lovely person, too! She's done a lot for us here in East Tennessee!
Indigo from Adelaide, Australiai actually heard the white stripes cover of this song first. and, although i prefer the white stripes version, the original is also pretty good. the lyrics are great, just like pleading with jolene.
Crackerstar from Starville, MtThe little girl "jolene" that asked for the autograph went on to say she did not know her dad. Hence the song being created. With the intention that little girls who grow up without good father figures are quite possibly linked to the effect of stealing men from other women to fill their appitite for a male figure or the lack there of in their life. All girls need a 'present' father, without it they grow up very effected and try to fill in the void. Lesson being, do not take another womans man simply because you can. If a man is taken, respect that boundary. One's lack of a father figure should never over ride common decency.
Edwin from Vancouver, BcFor anyone who ever wondered how Parton became a star... an absolute killer tune. Is that her on the guitar?
Paul from Bucharest, RomaniaI so love this song .. but since I heard it, the white stripes version has become my fave
Mark from Byrdstown, TnAny time I hear this song I wonder back when she recorded this song who the heck could have taken a man away from Dolly? She was hotter than a 2 dollar pistol back in those days!
Darrell from Eugene, United StatesAt the time that I was romantically involved with a beautiful redhead (named Melissa, not Jolene), I also had another girlfriend who lived all the way across Oregon(naned Chandra, over 50 pounds heavier than Melissa and potentially lethal to anyone smaller than her, in other words, under 5'9" and 170 lbs), so the Jolene-esque confrontation and anything worse was thwarted. I have not seen Chandra in some time, and I assume that she is with another man in another place.
Andy from Arlington, Va#217 on Rolling Stone's top 500 songs.
Bri from Chelmsford, MaI really like the White Stripes' rendition.
Jillian from Portland, TxI love this song because I can simply relate. Its an awesome song.
Sarah Floyd from Bloomingdale, Ili like this song because its about love and she doent want this girl to take her man when they still have their relationship. and it teaches me that another woman can take your man. and you can do something about it. thats what i like about this song.
Evelyn from Kansas City, MoMindy Smith did an amazing cover of this song, and the video is cool becauseâ??it features Dolly!
Joyce from Urbandale, Ia"Just reminds me of a few insecure maneaters that I've had the misfortune of witnessing their shallow selfserving games" Reminds of my so called bestfriend whoo did'nt stop till she bagged my (now ex) fiance!"
Eloise from London, EnglandI love this song tho I'm not a big country fan generally. It tells a great story and my favourite line is "please don't take him, even though you can".