My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy

Album: My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy (1969)
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Songfacts®:

  • In the title track of her fourth solo album, Dolly Parton takes on the persona of a country girl who leaves her boring hometown for the excitement of New Orleans, only to become a prostitute. When the Blue Ridge Mountain Boy she left behind marries another girl, she realizes she can never get her old life back again.
  • A segment of the Appalachian Mountains, the Blue Ridge Mountains extend 550 miles southwest from southern Pennsylvania through parts of Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia.
  • This was the album's third single, following "Daddy" and a cover of Elvis Presley's "In The Ghetto." It peaked at #45 on the Country chart.
  • Even this early in her career, Dolly wasn't scared to explore controversial issues like prostitution, suicide ("The Bridge), or female sexuality ("Just Because I'm a Woman"), even if the songs got less airplay than their safer counterparts.

    "I wrote a lot of songs that people wouldn't play on the radio, but I didn't care," she explained in her 2020 book, Songteller. "It bothered me at the time, but I never thought, 'I shouldn't have done that.' Whatever I write is just what comes out of me, and I refuse to be judged."
  • Dolly has written a few tunes about prostitutes, including "Mama, Say A Prayer" and "A Gamble Either Way," but she wasn't always so knowledgeable about sex workers. When she first moved to Nashville in the early '60s, she decorated her trailer for Christmas with what she thought was a festive red light above her door. "No other Christmas lights, just a big red light on the door, ha!" she recalled in Songteller. "I didn't realize that prostitutes put a red light over their door! I guess in the old days, that's how you would know that was a house to stop at for that. But I was young; I didn't know."

    When her uncle Bill Owens and her future husband, Carl, came to visit, they not-so-calmly set her straight. "When they both saw that light, they were horrified," she remembered. "They went, 'You've got to take that down right away! People are going to come here with the wrong idea.' I thought about saying, 'How do you know it's the wrong idea? Maybe you don't know what I'm all about.' But I didn't, and I had to take it down."
  • Dolly's husband, Carl Dean, is notoriously camera shy and has rarely attended events with the singer, but he can be glimpsed on the cover of My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy. Dolly, dressed as a prostitute, reclines on a sofa daydreaming about the man that got away, portrayed by Carl.
  • Peaking at #6 on the Country Albums chart, the album was her highest-charting release of the '60s.

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