Dolly Parton songwriting: How Dolly wrote two iconic songs at the SAME time

Dolly Parton discusses her new festive album

Dolly Parton has had a longevity like no other in the music industry. Her continuous presence in the country music charts all comes down to her impressive songwriting, which tells tales of a broken heart in a beautiful way. It turns out, two of her most iconic songs were written at the same time, showing how lucrative a songwriting period Dolly has had.

Speaking to Seth Meyers on his late-night talk show in the USA, Dolly opened up about how, years after recording them, she realised two of her most iconic songs were written at the same time.

It turned out I Will Always Love You was part of an incredibly lucrative writing period for Dolly, as she explained to Seth how she found the song nestled next to another of her biggest hits, Jolene.

She said: “I found an old cassette and I didn’t realise that myself but we were going through all my archives and trying to get everything on hard drives so I wouldn’t lose all these old tapes I had.

“And on the same tape I had Jolene and I Will Always Love You. A major night I guess!

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“It could have been the same week as sometimes when I’d write I’d go back to the same cassette but anyway it’s very possible it was the same night or at least in that same period of time.”

The two songs speak of heartbreak in different ways, as one related to her husband and the other to her professional relationships.

At the time, Dolly was appearing on The Porter Wagoner Show alongside her great friend and mentor, with whom she had sung duets for five years.

For Dolly, this was the moment when she needed to say goodbye to the show and move forward alone, but Porter and she could not agree about when was the best time to do this.

It was a really tough time for Dolly, and she poured out her heart in a song.

She said to CMT in 2011: “There was a lot of grief and heartache there, and he just wasn’t listening to my reasoning for my going.

“I thought, ‘Well, why don’t you do what you do best? Why don’t you just write this song?’…

“So I went home and out of a very emotional place in me at that time, I wrote the song, ‘I Will Always Love You.'”

Eventually, on hearing the song, Porter understood where she was coming from and let her leave, and years later the song took on a new lease of life when it was recorded by Whitney Houston for her hit movie The Bodyguard.

In contrast, Jolene is about a bank teller her husband spent time with, who Dolly admits she felt jealous of, explaining how “everybody has a Jolene in their lives.”

During her headline Glastonbury 2014 set, Dolly told the story of the lyrics behind this song, as chronicled in The Independent.

She said: “Now, some of you may or may not know that that song was loosely based on a little bit of truth.

“I wrote that years ago when my husband… was spending a little more time with Jolene than I thought he should be.

“I put a stop to that. I got rid of that redhead woman in a hurry.

“I want you folks to know, though, that something good can come from anything.

“Had it not been for that woman I would never have written Jolene and I wouldn’t have made all that money, so thank you, Jolene.”

She has also said the name itself came from a young fan she spoke to during one of her concerts, who kept shouting her name, Jolene, to Dolly from the crowd.

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