Pages Navigation Menu

Start With Something That's True

Dolly Parton Jolene Best Direct Address Ever?

Dolly Parton Jolene Best Direct Address Ever?

Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” was based on a young girl who approached her early on in her career. She had red hair, green eyes and fair skin – Dolly asked her name. It was Jolene.

She quipped “Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene – I’m going to write a song about you someday.” The rest is history.

While the driving tempo is one of the things that makes the song an easy genre-shifter, being covered by everyone from Sinead O’Connor, to Mindy Smith, to Melissa Etheridge to the White Stripes, it’s the subtle lyric – a simple direct address appeal – that is the most compelling.

The minor key adds a mystery to the song, but even the uptempo of the original can’t hide the angst the speaker feels.

SONG STATS

Genre:  Country

Recorded:  1973

Time:  2:60

BPM:  106

Key:  E minor

Structure:  CH | V | V | CH  | V | CH

Another unique element of the song is how it starts – with the chorus. Well – unique for now. In 1974 there were several number ones that started with the chorus. Talk about don’t bore us – get to the chorus!

Why Best Direct Address Country Song Ever?

 

#1  The artist is secure enough to not worry how their brand will be impacted by a song that has lyrics showing any sign of weakness. But it’s Dolly Parton – and she has always been her own best lantern holder!

#2  There’s no yelling! You never get the sense the speaker is out of control (except when Jack White sings it). It’s an appeal, from one woman to another.  It also manages to not sound weak.

#3  The lyrics lay out the facts, i.e., you can have anyone you want. I love this person, so do the right thing, but please don’t ruin my life simply out of spite – or “because you can”. It’s polite but direct.

#4  The song never pretends to not be direct address – “I had to have this talk with you”. The lyrics don’t shy away from the ask in order to preserve the speaker’s pride. A unique circumstance, especially in today’s songwriting world.

Dolly Parton: Jolene

 

Mindy Smith: Jolene

 

“Jolene” Lyrics

 

CHORUS
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene –
I’m begging of you please don’t take my man.
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene –
Please don’t take him just because you can.

VERSE
Your beauty is beyond compare,
With flaming locks of auburn hair,
With ivory skin and eyes of emerald green.
Your smile is like a breath of spring,
Your voice is soft like summer rain,
And I cannot compete with you, Jolene

VERSE
He talks about you in his sleep,
There’s nothing I can do to keep
From crying when he calls your name, Jolene.
And I can easily understand
How you could easily take my man,
But you don’t know what he means to me, Jolene.

CHORUS
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene –
I’m begging of you please don’t take my man.
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene –
Please don’t take him just because you can.

VERSE
You could have your choice of men,
But I could never love again:
He’s the only one for me, Jolene.
I had to have this talk with you,
My happiness depends on you,
And whatever you decide to do Jolene.

CHORUS
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene –
I’m begging of you please don’t take my man.
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene –
Please don’t take him just because you can.
Jolene, Jolene.







Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest