The song was ranked No. 217 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of ‘The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time’ in 2004. According to Dolly Parton, ‘Jolene’ is the song most recorded by other artists of all the songs she has written. Indeed, it is surprising how many songs Dolly has written for herself and other singers also.
‘Jolene’ earned Dolly Parton a ‘Grammy Award for Best Country Duo/Group Performance 43 years after its original release.
The song storyline tells of Parton confronting Jolene, a stunningly beautiful woman, whom she believes is trying to steal away her lover and asking her "please don't take my man." Throughout the song, Parton implores Jolene "please don't take him just because you can." According to Parton, the song was inspired by a red-headed bank clerk who flirted with her husband Carl Dean at his local bank branch around the time they were newly married.
The song became Parton's second solo number-one single on the country charts after being released as a single in late 1973 (prior to the album's release). It was released as a single later in the UK and became Parton's first top ten hit song in the country, reaching number seven in the ‘UK Singles Chart’ in 1976. The song also re-entered the chart when Parton performed at the ‘Glastonbury Festival’ in 2014.
The song has always been a favourite of mine. I just love the down-to-earth messages and emotions in all of Dolly Parton’s songs. She is undoubtedly one of the most famous yet most unpretentious and modest of singers of the past fifty years.
This song reminds me of a man called ‘Frank’ who I came to know when I was a Probation Officer in Huddersfield between 1971-1990. Frank had been married seven years and was the proud father of two children. During the early 80s, Frank, who’d been suppressing his true sexuality all his life, formed a relationship with a man of single status from Holmfirth. After much agonising, Frank left his wife and children and set up home with the other man. He still maintained access contact with his children. The relationship with his ex-wife and the mother to his children became toxic and both children were prohibited ever sleeping over at the accommodation of their father and his male lover.
For the better part of a year, all seemed to go okay between Frank and his male partner, although his wife felt betrayed and never forgave Frank for his deception. After approximately I year of living with his male partner, Frank discovered that he also had been the victim of deception after he learned that his partner was actually ‘bi-sexual’ and had been having an affair with a married but separated woman who lived in Meltham. Frank was initially enraged at his partner’s behaviour with the woman behind his back, and then his enragement turned to fear that his male partner would end their relationship and leave him for his woman lover. The more Frank pleaded with his male partner not to end their relationship, the more determined his male lover appeared to do so. In a final act of desperation, Frank found out the address of the Meltham woman his partner was going to leave him for, and after visiting her house unannounced, he pleaded with her ‘Not to take his man’. His pleas fell on deaf ears.
Whenever I hear the song ‘Jolene’, it always makes me think of ‘Frank’. Shortly after, I was transferred to Batley and then Dewsbury Probation Office where I remained until I retired early on the grounds of ill-health. I never did learn how things worked out for Frank after his male partner left him for the Meltham woman.
Love and peace. Bill xxx