You’ve probably been humming along to Dolly Parton’s music your whole life. From ‘Jolene’ to ‘9 to 5’, her impressive catalog of country hits is instantly recognizable. Parton is a living legend and national treasure who has won over fans around the world with her sweet Southern charm, big blonde hair, and even bigger voice.
While her impressive career has spanned over 50 years, some songs still stand out as her very best. These iconic anthems have not only defined her as an artist but have become woven into the fabric of American music. Get ready to start tapping your toes as we count down the 10 best Dolly Parton songs of all time.
Dolly Parton’s 1973 hit “Jolene” is arguably her most iconic song. This catchy country tune tells the story of a woman pleading with a stunning redhead named Jolene not to steal her man.
With its memorable lyrics and melody, “Jolene” still gives us chills today. Dolly’s vocals are on full display, showcasing her impressive range and emotion. Her heartbreak is palpable as she sings “Your beauty is beyond compare, with flaming locks of auburn hair. Ivory skin and eyes of emerald green.”
I Will Always Love You
This power ballad from the ’80s showcases Dolly at her best. Released in 1974, “I Will Always Love You” is a bittersweet ode to lost love. Dolly’s haunting vocals and lyrics like “Bittersweet memories, that’s all I’m taking with me…” capture the melancholy feeling of a relationship ending.
Yet there’s a strength and resolve in her promise to always keep a place for that love in her heart. The song starts soft and slow, building up to a dramatic climax with Dolly belting out “I will always love you!” It gave Dolly her first #1 hit on the country charts and introduced her enormous talent to mainstream audiences.
9 to 5
Dolly Parton’s 1980 hit “9 to 5” is an anthem for working women everywhere. This upbeat pop song expresses the frustrations of working a typical “9 to 5” office job, dealing with chauvinistic bosses and the daily grind.
The instantly recognizable melody and Dolly’s vocals make this one of her most memorable and empowering songs. The lyrics highlight the unfair treatment and unsatisfactory working conditions that many women faced in office jobs at the time. Phrases like “pour myself a cup of ambition” and “it’s a rich man’s game, no matter what they call it” resonate with anyone who has had to work harder to get ahead.
Islands in the Stream (With Kenny Rogers)
This 1983 duet with country legend Kenny Rogers is one of Dolly’s most well-known and beloved songs. “Islands in the Stream” showcases both Dolly and Kenny’s impressive vocal ranges and harmonizing abilities. The lyrics compare finding love to being on an island, a place of solitude and retreat.
The song was co-written by the Bee Gees, who were at the height of their success in the late 70s and early 80s. It has a definitive 80s pop sound with synths and drums, which provides an interesting contrast with Dolly and Kenny’s traditional country voices. “Islands in the Stream” was an enormous commercial hit, topping charts around the world and winning several awards. It really cemented Dolly and Kenny as one of the most successful duet pairings in country music history.
Coat of Many Colors
This heartfelt song is one of Dolly’s most personal. Released in 1971, “Coat of Many Colors” tells the semi-autobiographical story of her upbringing in rural Appalachia.
As a child, Dolly’s family was very poor. Her mother stitched together a coat for her out of rags given to them by neighbors. Though the other children made fun of her for the coat’s appearance, Dolly’s mother told her it was made of “love.”
Here You Come Again
Dolly Parton’s 1977 hit “Here You Come Again” is one of her most memorable and recognizable songs. This catchy pop/country tune topped both the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Country Songs charts, cementing Dolly as a crossover artist.
With its infectious melody and relatable lyrics about the back-and-forth of an on-again, off-again relationship, “Here You Come Again” struck a chord with listeners. In the song, Dolly’s ex has come around looking to rekindle their romance, but she knows it likely won’t end well based on past experience. However, his charms prove too hard to resist.
Why’d You Come in Here Lookin’ Like That
Dolly Parton is known for her big hair, big personality, and even bigger songs. One of her most memorable hits is “Why’d You Come in Here Lookin’ Like That”. Released in 1989, this upbeat country pop song is all about seeing an ex who’s looking way too good.
We’ve all been there. You’re out for a night on the town, feeling great, when who should walk in but your former flame—and damn, do they look fine! Dolly captures that feeling perfectly in the lyrics and melody of this song.
Two Doors Down
One of Dolly’s most poignant ballads is “Two Doors Down.” Released in 1978, this song tells the story of a woman who finds solace in the arms of the man two doors down after being hurt by her lover.
The melody is melancholy yet soothing, carried by Dolly’s distinctive vocals and guitar. The lyrics paint a vivid picture of loneliness.
It’s All Wrong, but It’s All Right
This heartfelt ballad from 1973 showcases Dolly Parton’s vocal range and songwriting talent. Though the relationship described in the lyrics didn’t work out, the singer reflects on the good times they shared.
You thought you had found “the one,” but ultimately the pairing wasn’t meant to be. Though it’s sad, you realize you’re both better off apart. When you hear this tune, you’ll relate to looking back on a past romance with bittersweet feelings.
The Bargain Store
The Bargain Store is a fun, upbeat song that highlights Dolly’s ability to turn a catchy phrase. Released in 1975, the lyrics tell the story of a thrifty shopper who can’t resist a good deal.
You know the type – someone who loves searching for bargains and treasures in thrift shops and discount outlets. That thrill of the hunt and satisfaction in finding a diamond in the rough. Dolly captures that feeling in this song.
There we have it, our list 0f 10 best Dolly Parton songs. What do you think about our picks? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below: