15 Comments
author
May 21·edited May 21Author

Hi all. Very sorry for the formatting mess up with this post. I am not sure what happened, but sections repeated. It should be fixed now.

Expand full comment
May 21Liked by Noah Berlatsky

Yeah, I read the e-mail version first and I'm like "So nice, Noah had to say it thrice?"

I think both you and Todd in the Shadows got it right when you said Beyoncé being less nakedly vulnerable made her seem more breakable than Dolly's pleading does—though, yes, Dolly's description is so explicitly desirable that you think "Truples, anyone?" Which would be awesome if true, but Dolly Parton kind of reminds me of my Mom when first our cousin and then her Mom, my Aunt, came out as gay—that's lovely, no judgements, but between you and me could we keep your spousal equivalents and YOU can go now...? (No joke there—the biggest mysteries were how two such lovely women could have fallen for our...problematic relatives!)

Expand full comment
May 21Liked by Noah Berlatsky

Prepare to have your mind blown:

Debbie Harry is several months older than Dolly Parton

Expand full comment
author

hah; that is striking.

I guess it's weird because Parton's career started when she was so much younger?

Expand full comment
May 21Liked by Noah Berlatsky

that's what I think it is...And Harry was in her early 30s when Blondie formed...Her kittenish good looks made her seem MUCH younger!

(:

Expand full comment
author

also Parton's remained relevant/in the news in a way that Harry hasn't, so she's a public figure as a older person, while you tend to just remember Harry from the 80s...

Expand full comment
May 21Liked by Noah Berlatsky

I hadn't thought of that...that totally scans...The 'frozen in amber' effect

Expand full comment

Dolly Parton started professionally on the radio and television as a singer/songwriter when she was *ten*, and first appeared on The Grand Ole Opry at thirteen.

Makes Stevie Wonder and Taylor Swift look like slackers by comparison.... 🫣

Expand full comment

That's crazy talk.

Expand full comment
May 21Liked by Noah Berlatsky

nuts, right?

Expand full comment

This is a really great exploration of the themes underlying this song and a celebration of reinterpretations that have heart and merit.

Expand full comment

Thank you for writing about this. I love Dolly P and Miss Honey B. Also, I think something is up with this post. I keeps repeating sections. Maybe it’s just my computer though.

Expand full comment
author

No; it's a mess up. I'm not sure how it happened. hopefully fixed now.

Expand full comment

I'll also mention this (which was new to me): https://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2024/05/on-the-lighter-side-the-eldritch-horror-of-jolene

Going along with what you've said, part of what makes the original Jolene impressive is the way it showcases Parton's vocal power -- not because she goes full force, but the chorus has the feeling of going 60 in 2nd gear; she's just showing that she has the ability but still holding back.

Expand full comment

Perhaps stretching too far, it occurs to me that Saint Etienne's "Sylvie" has the structure of Jolene (one woman addressing the titular woman and asking her to stay away from her man, who is seen as too week-willed to be reliable), except everyone involved is tawdry and awful: https://genius.com/Saint-etienne-sylvie-lyrics

Expand full comment