Playlist: Jolene

Sometimes it’s just a regular Tuesday in the endless tradition of Tuesdays but it’s just completely awful, a day that should be stricken from the record. Sometimes on days like that, you need to listen to something exactly as anguished as you are — something like Dolly Parton’s “Jolene!” As heteronormative as it sounds (which, whatever, Dolly, I see you), there’s just nothing more cathartic than wailing “THERE’S NOTHING I CAN DO TO KEEP/MYSELF FROM CRYING WHEN HE CALLS YOUR NAME, JOLENE.”

So in the spirit of whatever force in the universe brought us that set of covers of “Hallelujah,” (for which I am still grateful for the k.d. lang cover), here are 10 versions of Jolene*. Feel free to play whenever you need to weep softly and sing loudly to yourself about her auburn hair and emerald eyes. Or the fact that the Chipotle is out of black beans and the pinto beans have bacon in them. Whichever. Did you know JANIS IAN SANG A SONG CALLED JOLENE? You’re welcome.


* I know the Cake, The Weepies , and Janis Ian songs aren’t covers. Don’t care.

fucking fierce as fuck

Jolene – Dolly Parton
Jolene – The White Stripes
Jolene – Olivia Newton-John
Jolene – Janis Ian
Jolene – Matraca Berg
Jolene – The Weepies
Jolene – Cake
Jolene – Rhonda Vincent
Jolene – Mindy Smith ft. Dolly Parton
Jolene – Reba McEntire

Jolene from Autostraddle on 8tracks.

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Rachel is Autostraddle's Managing Editor and the editor who presides over books and news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy."

Rachel has written 983 articles for us.


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    True story, I collect covers of this song. The White Stripes one is my all-time favorite, in larger part because Jack White is my absolute favorite musician (and he lends it an extra level of queerness). Also, 10,000 Maniacs has a great live cover.

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    Omg. This playlist. I love Dolly Parton! She knows the struggles of large breasted women. <3

    When you feel said about heteronormative songs, you should just do as I do and rewrite the lyrics to be about women. Works every time. πŸ™‚

    "You could have your choices of women, but I could never love again. She's the only one for me, Jolene."

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    damn was i confused for a bit about that cake “cover.” it’s not actually a cover, it’s a cake original also called “jolene.”

    unrelated point: the first concert i ever saw was dolly parton. i was 10, and i was obsessed with her variety show. now i’m obsessed with taking a road trip to dollywood.

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    The Geraldine Fibbers covered Jolene. It was kind of angry and mournful. I saw. Carla Bozulich recently at a show and she seems to have mellowed.
    Great playlist. I love Dolly.

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    I am going to karaoke tonight and performing this song. My friends love it, cause I have red hair and fair skin. Kind of ironic. Also, this song kind of fits my day.

    Also, the fact that Reba McEntire did a version of this song and that it was included on this list makes me so very happy. I never thought I’d see her name brought up on AS, but seeing it here definitely brought a smile to my face.

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    Wait, what’s the name of this song?


    I tend to wanna just listen to Dolly’s Jolene over and over because I adore her, but for the sake of not annoying my neighbors (as much), I’ll throw in Jesse Thomas’ version. (If you check her out, I highly suggest you listen to some of her other songs.)

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    OK – my best ever interaction w/ celebrities/talent working in showbiz went thusly: Me and my crew had to rush out to a location because the original guys fucked up and were fired on the spot – the UPM had worked with us previous and put out a “SOS Save us!” call. We looked over the room they were shooting in and went off to find another room (it was an actual house) to set up in. While we’re doing our thing a blonde bouffant’d head peeks in the door and says – in that unmistakeable voice – “Hi, I’m Dolly”. So we naturally had to stop what we were doing and make our introductions. It was so great – I’ve NEVER had an actor take the time to seek us out and introduce themselves. For extra squee, she also sang and told cute stories between the longer set-ups.

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