Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”: A Popular Cover Choice For Musicians Ages 9-99

Dan Gibson | October 10, 2008 1:30 am

NPR’s All Things Considered took a look at Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” this week, which is not only the lone song my wife will sing at karaoke, but a popular target for actual musicians as well. (It was also performed by an unnamed fifth grader at my son’s elementary school talent show last week. When a song hits the talent show playlist, you know it’s moved into “classic” territory.) “It’s a great chord progression—people love that ‘Jolene’ lick,” Parton told NPR. “It’s as much a part of the song almost as the song. And because it’s just the same word over and over, even a first-grader or a baby can sing, ‘Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene.’ It’s like, how hard can that be?” Parton’s version, as well as some notable covers, below the cut.

Dolly Parton, on the Wilburn Brothers Show:

Olivia Newton-John, who had a Japanese No. 1 with her version:

Mindy Smith:

The White Stripes:

Strawberry Switchblade:

An awful recording of Sisters of Mercy:

Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’ Still Haunts Singers [NPR]