With a legendary career spanning over six decades, Dolly Parton has written more than 5,000 songs. When asked what her favorite song is that she has written, Dolly always responds with "Coat of Many Colors". She has stated that the song has affected her differently through the years depending on what is going on in her life, saying that she was unable to sing it for months after her mother died in December 2003. The song has inspired a children's book, two television movies, dolls, and other trinkets often sold at Dollywood. The song was released on September 27, 1971, with the album of the same name following a week later on October 4. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the song and album, let's take a look back at the story of one of Dolly's most iconic songs and albums.
In early 1969 Dolly wrote what would become one of her signature songs. While on tour with Porter Wagoner, Dolly wrote "Coat of Many Colors" on the back of one of Porter’s dry-cleaning receipts. Porter would go on to be the first to record the song (with Dolly providing harmony vocals). His first recording on April 9, 1969 was rejected, and he re-recorded the song on April 15. This second recording remained unreleased until 1981 when it was included on Porter’s One for the Road album. You can take a listen to this rare recording below.
Dolly cut her first version of “Coat of Many Colors” a little over a month later on May 21, 1969, but this version remains unreleased. Dolly performed the song live for the first time during a concert at her old high school on April 25, 1970, during the recording of her live album A Real Live Dolly, but the live version from this concert went unreleased until it was included on the 2003 reissue of Dolly’s Just Because I’m a Woman album and later on the 2009 reissue of A Real Live Dolly. You can listen to Dolly's first public performance in the video below.
A year after the song’s first public performance, Dolly entered RCA Studio B on April 27, 1971, and recorded the definitive version of the autobiographical song, along with four other songs that would appear on the album. Following the single's release on September 27, 1971, it debuted at number 65 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart dated October 30, 1971. It peaked at number four on the chart dated December 25, its ninth week on the chart and charted for 16 weeks. The single also peaked at number 15 in Canada on the RPM Country Singles chart and number 60 in Australia. Listen to Dolly's definitive version of the song below.
The song was also the title track of Dolly's eighth solo studio album which was released on October 4, 1971, to positive reviews. The review published in the October 16, 1971 issue of Billboard said, "The top stylist's new single, the touching ballad "Coat of Many Colors", kicks off what should prove to be her biggest selling album to date. Most of the material is her own, with a few strong numbers penned by Porter Wagoner. The recent hit single, "My Blue Tears", is spotlighted along with other standouts such as "She Never Met a Man" and "The Way I See You"."
Cashbox published a review in the October 9, 1971 issue, which said, "It's hard to believe it's possible, but Dolly's releases still get better and better each time you listen and each time a new one hits the market. This one's another bulleye–with her new single as the title track and her previous hit "My Blue Tears" for drawing power, an extraordinary self-penned tune (even for Dolly) in "She Never Met a Man (She Didn't Like)" for programming appeal and a trio of Porter Wagoner tunes to put the icing on the country cake. Bound for top chart honors."
The album debuted at number 41 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart dated October 30, 1971. It would peak at number seven on the chart dated January 22, 1972, its thirteenth week on the chart. The album charted for 23 weeks.
Throughout the years the album has become one of Dolly's most critically acclaimed records. In 2006, the album appeared on Time Magazine's list of the 100 Greatest Albums of All Time. In 2003 the album was ranked number 299 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, with the ranking dropping to number 301 in the 2012 update and climbing to number 257 in the 2020 reboot of the list. In 2017, National Public Radio ranked the album number 11 on their list of the 150 greatest albums made by women.
Dolly Parton's debut studio album, Hello, I'm Dolly was released 54 years ago on September 18, 1967, by Monument Records. The album was produced by Fred Foster. It peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Top Country albums chart and contained Dolly's first two hit singles, "Dumb Blonde" and "Something Fishy", which peaked at numbers 24 and 17, respectively, on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Let's take a look back at this record and how it came to be and how it helped launch Dolly's legendary career.
After graduating high school in May 1964, Dolly moved to Nashville the next day. Her initial success came as a songwriter, when Fred Foster, owner of Combine Music and Monument Records, signed her to a publishing and recording deal. During this early period at Monument, Dolly wrote songs that were recorded by a variety of artists. "Put It Off Until Tomorrow" had been recorded by Bill Phillips (with uncredited harmony vocals by Dolly) and released as a single in January 1966. It peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Skeeter Davis had recorded "Fuel to the Flame" and released it as a single in January 1967 and it peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Hank Williams Jr. recorded "I'm in No Condition" and released it as a single in April 1967. It was the least successful of these three songs, peaking at number 60 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
Though she was writing hit country songs, Fred Foster felt that Dolly's voice was not suited for country and tried to market her as a bubblegum pop singer with the release of her first five singles for the label: "What Do You Think About Lovin'" (1964), "Happy, Happy Birthday Baby" (1965), "Busy Signal" (1966), "Don't Drop Out" (1966), and "The Little Things" (1966). The most successful of these releases was "Happy, Happy Birthday Baby", which managed to peak at number 108 on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart.
Following the success of Bill Phillips' recording of Dolly's composition "Put It Off Until Tomorrow" (featuring uncredited harmony by Dolly) in 1966, Foster was finally persuaded to allow her to record country material sometime in mid-1966, but there was still a long road ahead before Dolly's debut album would become a reality.
"Dumb Blonde" was released as a single on November 7, 1966, and debuted at number 64 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart dated January 21, 1967. It peaked at number 24 on the chart dated March 18, its ninth week on the chart. It seems that Dolly's debut album was intended to follow in February 1967, as this was the release date given in Dolly's 1994 autobiography My Life and Other Unfinished Business (and subsequently repeated online for years after the internet came into existence), but this release date can be thoroughly debunked based on some other sources which I'll get to a little later.
"Something Fishy", was released as a single on May 8, 1967, and debuted at number 61 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart dated June 10. It peaked at number 17 on the chart dated August 5, its ninth week on the chart, becoming Dolly's first top 20 hit. During an interview on June 7, 1967, Dolly states that her debut album should be out by the end of the month (this interview can be heard here, the album is discussed at the 13:30 mark), but the album was to see further delays.
Around this same time Norma Jean left The Porter Wagoner Show and Porter was looking for a new "girl singer" for his television show. Dolly had caught his attention with her two recent hit singles and she made her debut on the September 5, 1967, episode where she performed both songs.
Finally, after being delayed anywhere from three to six months, a September release was officially announced for Hello, I'm Dolly in Cashbox (issue dated September 30) and Record World (issue dated October 7). The album was released September 18, 1967, following Dolly's debut on The Porter Wagoner Show. The album received reviews from Billboard and Cashbox.
After Dolly joined the cast of The Porter Wagoner Show and released her debut album, her hometown of Sevierville, Tennessee, hosted the very first Dolly Parton Day on October 7, 1967. The day began with a welcoming ceremony at the Sevierville courthouse at 10:10 AM, followed by a stop in Pigeon Forge at noon, and an appearance in Gatlinburg at 1:00 PM. The day concluded with a "Big Country Music Show featuring Porter Wagoner & the Wagonmasters with Dolly Parton" at the Sevier County courthouse at 2:00 PM. Dolly and Porter loaded up and headed back to Nashville following the performance because that evening Dolly was going to make her first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry since her debut in 1959 at age thirteen. She performed "Dumb Blonde" and a cover of Bobbie Gentry's "Ode to Billie Joe". Dolly and Porter did not perform any duets during this Opry show, that wouldn't happen until November 25.
When Dolly graduated from high school in May 1964, she told her classmates she was going to Nashville to be a star and they all laughed. Three years later Dolly had written multiple top 20 country hits, charted two of her own, become a regular cast member on a nationwide syndicated television show, released her debut album, and returned to the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. Not bad for dirt poor little girl form east Tennessee.
Dolly has partnered with Puerto Rican musician and singer-songwriter José Feliciano on a new recording of her 1991 classic "Eagle When She Flies". The new single adds a Latin flair to Dolly's classic song. Feliciano tweeted about the single's release, saying that the song "calls to mind some remarkable women I’ve known in my life who exhibit just that, that Grace under Fire. It’s a beautiful thing. And the song, I believe, says exactly that."
Dolly originally wrote the song in 1989 for the film Steel Magnolias in which she starred, but it was ultimately not included in the film or its soundtrack album. Dolly later used the song as the title track of her 1991 album and released it as the album's third single, peaking at number 33 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
You can view the official lyric video below and the single is available to purchase or stream now wherever you get your music!
Reba unveiled the track listing for her new album Revived Remixed Revisited on Thursday, August 26. The album's third disc, Revisited, which was produced with Dave Cobb and is described as a stripped back take on some of Reba's biggest hits, includes the previously announced duet with Dolly on "Does He Love You". Currently six tracks from the album have been made available for streaming and download. "You Keep Me Hangin’ On" (Classic Paradise Radio Mix) and "Fancy" (Dave Audé Remix) were included with the album when it was made available for pre-order since they had been previously released in 1996 and 2020, respectively. The album's August 13 pre-order also included one new single from each disc, "Is There Life Out There" (Revived), "I'm a Survivor" (Lafemmebear Remix), and "Consider Me Gone" (Revisited). The fourth single and sixth overall track released was "Can't Even Get the Blues" (Revived), which was made available on August 24. The album will be released on Friday, October 8, 2021.
To view the album's full track listing visit its page here on The Dolly Parton Discography.
Sam Williams released "Happy All the Time", his duet with Dolly from his upcoming album Glasshouse Children, on Monday, August 16. The song was written by Williams with Mary Gauthier and is his sixth single from the album which will be released this Friday, August 20. The single is available now on all digital music platforms.
People magazine premiered a new Dolly single on Thursday, August 12. The single, "In the Sweet By and By", comes from the upcoming compilation album Country Faith Bluegrass. The track features harmony vocals from Larry Cordle, Carl Jackson, Jerry Salley, and Bradley Walker. The single is being promoted as featuring "never-before-released" vocals. Producer Jerry Salley told People that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dolly was unable to get into the studio to record a new song for the album, but she sent him a "never-before-released" vocal and guitar track to which he could do whatever he wanted, as long as it met her final approval. Salley said he removed the guitar from the track and produced a new bluegrass arrangement around Dolly's vocal. The single will be available for purchase along with the album's pre-order on Friday, August 13. The album will be released on September 27 and features contributions from Vince Gill, Alison Krauss, Patty Loveless, Ricky Skaggs, Charlie Daniels, and more!
Read the article from People here.
Listen to the single below:
On Wednesday, August 11, Dolly announced that she has teamed up with James Patterson to write a new book titled Run, Rose, Run. The book will be published on March 7, 2022, by Little, Brown and Company. To make the announcement even more exciting, the book will be released alongside an album of 12 original songs written and performed by Dolly and produced by Richard Dennison and Tom Rutledge. The album will be released by Dolly's own Butterfly Records in partnership with a yet-to-be-determined label. Dolly initially let it slip that she was working on a novel with Patterson in July 2020 during an interview with Eddie Stubbs on WSM.
The companion album is the previously announced bluegrass album, which Dolly had mentioned would be released in early 2022.
Book synopsis from the publisher's website:
From America’s most beloved superstar and its greatest storyteller—a thriller about a young singer/songwriter on the rise and on the run, and determined to do whatever it takes to survive.
Every song tells a story.
She’s a star on the rise, singing about the hard life behind her.
She’s also on the run. Find a future, lose a past.
Nashville is where she’s come to claim her destiny. It’s also where the darkness she’s fled might find her. And destroy her.
Run, Rose, Run is a novel glittering with danger and desire—a story that only America’s #1 most beloved entertainer and its #1 bestselling author could have created.
Run, Rose, Run @ Little, Brown and Company
Dolly appeared on Watch What Happens Live on July 29. In response to a fan question about why she and Reba have never recorded a duet, Dolly told host Andy Cohen that they had recently recorded a duet on a new version of Reba's 1993 hit "Does He Love You". The original version, a duet with Linda Davis, appeared on Reba's 1993 compilation album Greatest Hits Volume Two. Dolly said that the duet was recorded for Reba's upcoming album, which Reba has not yet announced, so a release date is not yet known. Check out the clip above.
Dolly's new single, "Sent from Above", to promote her fragrance, Scent from Above, is available now through all digital retailers! The song was written by Dolly and produced by David Saint Fleur and Aukoustics. It is a dance pop song in the same vein as "Faith", her 2019 collaboration with Galantis, which was also co-produced by Fleur and Aukoustics. Take a listen below and be sure to buy and/or stream the single wherever you get your music!
Dolly will appear on Good Morning America on Tuesday, July 27, prior to her appearance on HSN on Wednesday, July 28, where she will launch the new fragrance. She will also be a guest on Watch What Happens Live on Thursday, July 29.
During Dolly’s interview on Tim McGraw’s Apple Music radio show Beyond the Influence which became available for streaming on July 21, she teased a couple of details about her recently recorded bluegrass album. Dolly told Tim that she has recorded duets with Merle Haggard’s son (though she did not specify whether it was Marty, Noel, or Ben) and Joe Nichols (who she previously collaborated with on “If I Were a Carpenter” for her 2005 album Those Were the Days). She went on to say that she has recorded some bluegrass and some country material for the record. The album was previously mentioned during a press conference at Dollywood in June announcing their new Heartsong Lodge & Resort. It is unknown when Dolly plans to release the album.