Dolly Parton's 10 Best Songs of All Time

Dolly Parton's 10 Best Songs of All Time

We really couldn't adore Dolly more. As a songwriter, performer and even an actor, she's proven herself worthy time and again. She holds a number of career milestones -- 25 gold, platinum, and multiplatinum awards, 41 career Top 10 country albums, and eight Grammys, just to name a few -- but more than that, she holds the hearts of country-music lovers everywhere.

So with so many accolades, it would be unjust to make Dolly share a Throwback Thursday list with other artists. She just kills the competition, so we compiled a list of her hits all her own to salute to the country-music legend.

After all, in Dolly's own words, "Its hard to be a diamond in a rhinestone world." And we'd just hate to hurt anyone's feelings.

10. "Love Is Like a Butterfly" This song is the epitome of what Dolly symbolizes: the lyrics about how delicate love is are soft, kind and really quite beautiful without ever being overbearing about the message. The first single and title track off Dolly's 1975 album, it became her signature song for quite a while and was used as the theme song to her syndicated music series, Dolly!. Perhaps that's why it became such a huge hit, but it hasn't remained a song of the '70s, either.

Miley Cyrus, Parton's goddaughter, has covered it on a number of stops on her "Bangerz!" tour, which has obviously given some new life to the old tune. Even Dolly herself brought out the old hit recently, when she sang it in a 2012 duet with Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report.

9. "The Bargain Store" How often has something Parton did been deemed controversial? Not often, unless you count "The Bargain Store." Dolly wrote this 1975 song about a woman in an ill-fated relationship, and while that hardly seems controversial, a line from the song -- which was apparently quite innocent -- was deemed otherwise.

You see, the problem was that Dolly used secondhand clothing as a metaphor for the relationship, and when the line, "You can easily afford the price," hit the airwaves, people mistook it for a thinly-veiled prostitution reference. It was pulled from the airwaves, but still managed to hit the top of the charts. People love Dolly, and rightfully so; a little line mistaken for some lovin' by the hour won't stop them.

8. "It's All Wrong, But It's All Right" While people mistakenly took "The Bargain Store" as a sexually explicit song about some quick lovin', this song is actually about the female narrator calling up an old friend to suggest an illicit one-time tryst to ease her loneliness. But despite its being much more overtly sexual, it was played on country stations across the nationwide and went on to top the charts.

Only Dolly could have pulled off that bait and switch with the two songs, eh? That's precisely why we adore her.


7. "Here You Come Again" The title track off of Dolly's 19th solo studio album, this song was her first real crossover success. It's a little less "true" country, and Dolly sounds a bit more produced and polished than on previous albums. The pop elements had her die-hard country fans in a tizzy, but it's still a great example of a laid-back country/pop crossover song, and we dig the change of pace.

6. "Why'd You Come In Here Lookin' Like That" Evidence of how special Parton's style really is can be found all over this 1989 hit, written by Bob Carlisle and Randy Thomas. How cute is Dolly singing about the hazards of men parading around in tight jeans and cowboy boots? Only she could make a song about a cheatin' man sound so non-threatening and fantastic. The rest of the nation loved this song as much as we did, considering it went straight to the top of the charts and stayed for 20 long weeks.

5. "Islands In the Stream" Kenny Rogers! Dolly Parton! Back in 1983, the two country giants recorded this Bee Gees song together, and it basically killed the competition from every direction. It topped Billboard's Hot 100, the country chart, the adult-contemporary chart, and is considered to be one of the best country duets of all time. Leave it to Kenny and Dolly to knock Bonnie Tyler's song "Total Eclipse of The Heart" off the charts. They're that good together.

4. "9 to 5" Not only is "9 to 5" a great song, but it comes from a great comedy with the same name, where Parton made her acting debut. As in everything else she does, Dolly was fantastic and perfectly campy in the film, holding her own with ease next to Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda.

The song was equally steadfast, earning Dolly an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song as well as four Grammy nods. She wound up winning two, for Best Country Song and Best Female Country Performance, along with our hearts forever.


3. "Coat of Many Colors" Composed by Parton while she was traveling with Porter Wagoner on a tour bus, this song has been noted as her favorite, and it's easy to see why. The story of being raised poor but proud, "Coat of Many Colors" is beautiful in its simplicity.

As Dolly stitches rags together to make her a coat, she tells her daughter the Old Testament story of Joseph's colorful coat. Reminiscing about how proud she was to wear that coat of many colors that her mama sewed together, she recalls holding her head high, despite the other kids' cruel teasing.

There couldn't be a more important lesson to take from her life as a child, and she relays the message so beautifully that the song has become one of our favorites, by her or anyone else.

2. "I Will Always Love You" Although this song is most often remembered as one of Whitney Houston's biggest hits, it was actually written and performed by Parton in 1974 -- long before Houston's appeared in 1992's The Bodyguard. Parton's version was released around the time of her split with partner and mentor Porter Wagoner, and as an ode to splitting up a relationship with respect and admiration rather than harsh feelings, it's lost none of its stirring power.

1. "Jolene" Parton wrote this heartbreaking, haunting ditty, and the lyrics are what elevate this song to the top spot. The tune about a beautiful woman who could have anybody she wants and yet wants to steal Parton's man, is never critical or judgmental of the other woman. Rather, Parton is self-effacing and honest in her plight to keep her relationship, and often seems in awe of the other woman's beauty.

It's true Dolly style to write a song about a romantic rival whom she's begging to back off, while showing no signs of jealousy or ill will toward the other woman. Parton truly is a class act, and "Jolene" shows exactly why we adore her.


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