Old Flames (Can't Hold a Candle to You)

Album: Dolly, Dolly, Dolly (1980)

Songfacts®:

  • This country chart-topper was co-written by American country singer-songwriter Hugh Moffatt, whose résumé includes songs recorded by Ronnie Milsap, Alabama and Johnny Cash. The other co-writer was former punk-rock singer Pebe Sebert, who later became a country songwriter. She later became better known as the mom of "TiK ToK" singer Kesha. Mother and daughter co-wrote three tracks from Kesha's 2010 album, Animal: "Your Love Is My Drug," "Stephen" and the title track.
  • Dolly Parton's version is actually a cover: the song was originally a #14 Country hit for Joe Sun in 1978. Dolly then took the tune to the top of the country charts in 1980.
  • In this song, Parton shares a glance with an ex, but instead of lighting that fire again, she lets it pass, since previous lovers can't compare to her current man.
  • Kesha, whose mom co-wrote it, considers this song "part of the family." She recorded for her 2012 EP Deconstructed, and in 2017 did it for her album Rainbow as a duet with Dolly Parton. "I have always looked up to Dolly," she said in an interview with NPR. "I always wanted to get a tattoo: 'What would Dolly do?' Because I always think about that whenever I'm in a situation or when I'm in an interview. She's just been such a positive compass for me in my career as a woman. The fact that I actually got to sing 'Old Flames' with her on this album is a really, really, really big deal for me."

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