In this tender country ballad, Dolly Parton imagines the rare kind of love that will endure a lifetime and beyond. "As far as I'm concerned, 'The Last One to Touch Me' speaks to everyone who's truly in love, who is really there 'til death do us part,'" she explained in her 2020 book, Songteller. "When I wrote it, I thought it spoke of true love that you want to last a lifetime. And true love that you hope will last even longer, that you'll meet and be together if there is such a thing as an afterlife. It's a wish to have a love that's that strong."
When Dolly recorded this in February 1971, she was just a couple months shy from celebrating her fifth wedding anniversary with Carl Dean. Now, after more than 50 years of marriage, the song makes her emotional because it depicts the kind of love they share. "The longer that Carl and I are together on our journey, the more the lyrics of 'The Last One to Touch Me' mean to me," she noted in Songteller. "He is my home and my heart."
This is featured on Dolly's seventh solo album, Joshua
, whose title track
earned her a Grammy nomination for Best Female Country Vocal Performance.
Although she wrote it, she wasn't the first to record it. Earlier in 1971, Porter Wagoner, her duet partner and producer, released it as a single from his album Simple As I Am. His version peaked at #18 on the Country chart (Dolly's didn't get a single release). With Joshua, Dolly was finally starting to achieve commercial success outside of her partnership with Wagoner, which would end by the mid-'70s.
This has also been covered by Conway Twitty, Kitty Wells, Nat Stuckey, and George Jones.