Originally appearing on her eighth solo album, Coat Of Many Colors, this humorous country yarn is about a young girl who falls for a door-to-door salesman despite her mother's protests. At the end, it becomes clear why her mother disapproved: She wanted him for herself!
Growing up in the mountains of East Tennessee, Dolly was familiar with traveling salesmen, who made it easier for women to buy household goods without having to make the long trek to the store. It wasn't unheard of for a bored young girl to run off with a salesman, especially a good-looking one, which gave Dolly the idea for the song.
Because Dolly sings this in the first-person point of view, she had some explaining to do about the song's twist ending. "Mama wasn't happy about the mother being portrayed like a 'hussy' in my song 'Traveling Man,' even though I told her it was a made-up story," she explained in her 2020 book, Songteller. "Traveling is something I know a lot about, because I've always been a musician gypsy."
She re-recorded this in a faster tempo for her 12th solo album, Bubbling Over, in 1973. That version peaked at #20 on the Country chart.
Dolly also released the album Joshua in 1971, and earned her first #1 on the Country chart with its "title song."
Coat Of Many Colors, featuring the hit title track, was nominated for Album Of The Year at the 1972 CMA Awards. It lost to Merle Haggard's Let Me Tell You About A Song.