Dolly Parton + Pentatonix
September 17, 2016 11:15 AM   Subscribe

Jolene- 2016 - And, as a frame of reference, Dolly singing Jolene in 1973 (I'll do the math for you, that 43 years ago)
posted by HuronBob (67 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
 
...and here it is slowed down. Previously.
posted by Killick at 11:37 AM on September 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


Dolly, DTMFA.
posted by srboisvert at 11:42 AM on September 17, 2016 [23 favorites]


I've said it before and I'll say it again... Dolly Parton is an absolute national treasure.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 11:43 AM on September 17, 2016 [49 favorites]


Dolly Parton should get a MacArthur Genius Grant. And whatever else she wants.

As for Jolene, I don't know why, but the White Stripes version(s) always destroy me.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:45 AM on September 17, 2016 [11 favorites]


Dolly Parton is one of the true goddesses on our planet.

And I know it's been decades and they claim their company culture has changed (apparently only a tiny bit), but I've never once been in a Cracker Barrel after the whole "we hate the queers" firing people thing in the early 90s, and seeing their logo come up at the beginning of this video raised the hackles on my neck.
posted by hippybear at 11:50 AM on September 17, 2016 [11 favorites]




I saw Dolly at Forest Hills earlier this year. She was terrific.
posted by jonmc at 12:35 PM on September 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


hippybear, I did the same. At least two members of Pentatonix are gay and I was sort of startled by that whole thing but I cannot fault anyone for deciding that working with Dolly is maybe worth a minor deal with the devil.

Also wow, that really is a weird song. I'm not sure I'd ever heard it as an actual adult. I feel like AskMe could help her out with some proper recontextualization.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:40 PM on September 17, 2016 [9 favorites]


It is a witchy song. It sounds like a 200 year old murder song from Britain.
posted by Bee'sWing at 12:48 PM on September 17, 2016 [31 favorites]


If we're talking about Dolly singing in beautiful close harmonies and adjusting playback speeds, I'll just drop this here,...stick around for the charming 78 rpm version at the end.
posted by bonobothegreat at 12:52 PM on September 17, 2016 [16 favorites]


Y'all have heard her "Jolene" collaboration with Mindy Smith, right?
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 12:53 PM on September 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


Dolly Parton is one of the true goddesses on our planet.

Yes, but I'd describe her as a level-headed, hard-working, talented woman and a rare example of somebody whose success is completely their own deserved achievement.
posted by Segundus at 1:01 PM on September 17, 2016 [50 favorites]


Wow! That bass singer really nails the finger mute technique employed by an upright bass player.

My band does an acoustic mashup of Jolene alternating with Rolling In The Deep, keeping the Chip Young style guitar throughout.
posted by sourwookie at 1:02 PM on September 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


Dolly is the best. Saw her live in August. Blew my face off.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 1:03 PM on September 17, 2016


I love this version of Jolene; I think it's my favorite.

Her cover of Stairway to Heaven is my friend's favorite. He sent me that a few days ago in response to my having sent him the Jolene video.
posted by heyho at 1:09 PM on September 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


Yes, but I'd describe her as...

If you don't think that being a woman who has achieved the status and longevity that Dolly has through her own hard work, beginning her work in the mid-60s, doesn't qualify her for true goddess status, then I am not sure what exactly someone would have to do in your mind for that to be true.
posted by hippybear at 1:11 PM on September 17, 2016 [19 favorites]


Cracker Barrel is an institution in the South. Dolly is shrewder than almost anyone in music. If she figured that sponsoring this performance and recording through Cracker Barrel was a chance to highlight a hugely talented group of musicians for a giant audience that might never have otherwise come across them, I say more power to her.
posted by blucevalo at 1:12 PM on September 17, 2016 [9 favorites]


One of the great pop culture discoveries of my life, as a younger man, was the realization that the almost-caricaturish pop culture version of Dolly Parton I was aware of was only the public-facing facet of a woman who was an amazing songwriter, an incredibly savvy business person, and a woman who managed to be progressive, on her own terms, in an industry, culture and planet that doesn't reward women doing any of those things.

Learning that made me face some of my own prejudices regarding women, pop culture and the American south. At the end of it I think I became slightly more wise. And also, I'm kind of in awe of Dolly Parton. She is, however you want to look at her, hugely accomplished, amazing, and well worth admiration. There are not too many living artists I admire more.
posted by jscalzi at 1:20 PM on September 17, 2016 [69 favorites]


I first heard jolene around a camp fire in Ann Arbor, probably, 1974. Played by some good geetar and throat folks. It's intertesting to see individuals renditions. Dolly likes Whites' version. Even the Slow Ass "version" played on The Blacklist seems like a remake.

"It costs a lot to look this cheap"
-New Yorker, 'Slowed-down Dolly Parton', 2013.

That's a good read.
I believe Dolly is the only Diva who would disagree with that title.
In a Reddington script, She walk through bullets, point at the RPG guy who'd wither, crying in shame. The Russians stop and stare with respect, as Dolly has in-tow, #4 Gottleib Tray, international Pharmo-chemist who tried spraying DMT aerosol at the Eagles in Dollywood.

National treasure.
posted by clavdivs at 1:22 PM on September 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'll just drop this here,...stick around for the charming 78 rpm version at the end.

Seriously do, that 45->78rpm effect is amazing.

A bit of Jolene trivia: the popularity of the baby name "Jolene" jumped more than 3x in 1974. I would have expected the opposite.
posted by john hadron collider at 1:42 PM on September 17, 2016


Miley Cyrus also did a great cover.
posted by jeather at 1:42 PM on September 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


Miley also does a great duet with Dolly, who as I understand is her godmother.
posted by signal at 1:44 PM on September 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


I really enjoyed this, but what happened to Mitch? I don't dig the bald look on him.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 2:01 PM on September 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


"It costs a lot to look this cheap"
-New Yorker, 'Slowed-down Dolly Parton', 2013.


Although that's the famous quote, she says and explains it much better in her song Backwoods Barbie.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:04 PM on September 17, 2016


I love that when people (Mindy Smith, Pentatonix, Miley Cyrus) cover Jolene she cheerfully comes along and helps them do so.

Like it's so very much her song that you can't even cover it without her participation.

BTW, re: "you are not responsible for my husband's choices," I love this song because it's a peek into a completely feminine (and old-fashioned) worldview, in which men are things you can have, or can have taken from you. Either deeply valuable things which are the irreplaceable bedrock of your life, or else playthings you can take hold of and throw away for your amusement. And beauty is a power, and someone else's power of beauty may be so great (objectively great, so that you see those eyes and hair and feel the power yourself) that you have no hope to keep your man, because she can take him from you. It completely objectifies men (while at the same time acknowledging that *despite* being an object, from the point of view of this feminine economy, he is *also* her irreplaceable love.)

In mainstream entertainment, I as a guy don't get to see the world from that point of view very often. I mean, it's a messed up point of view, but it's a point of view that has seemed real for a lot of people. And it's cool getting to see the world that way for the duration of the song.

And given all that, the whole song is pathetic, in the old sense of the term -- full of pathos; The the narrator is at the mercy of someone greater than her and can only beg her indulgence. That's something you don't see very often either; it's also kind of old-fashioned. The plea for mercy from one greater than oneself who may or may not (who probably will not) listen.

Those things are why I love this song. Well, also because it is hella amazing music.
posted by edheil at 2:05 PM on September 17, 2016 [49 favorites]


Also wow, that really is a weird song. I'm not sure I'd ever heard it as an actual adult. I feel like AskMe could help her out with some proper recontextualization.

It's also a little funny given that it's Dolly Parton singing it. I cannot compete with you, Jolene... all I've got is a thousand people's worth of skill and talent and drive. And character a mile deep. And oh yeah I'm rich. And super hot. But apart from that...
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:06 PM on September 17, 2016 [17 favorites]


(Oh, also I have a theme park.)
posted by Cookiebastard at 2:09 PM on September 17, 2016 [27 favorites]


I read an analysis of Jolene as a song about unexplored lesbian desire. On autostraddle maybe? I can't find it now. After all, the whole song is about how amazing Jolene is. The man is barely mentioned as anything more than an object.

Either way, I have a playlist dedicated to songs about Jolene in someway or another.
posted by Braeburn at 2:13 PM on September 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


ROU_Xenophobe: it gets even better - Dolly is poly!. Which makes it so hilarious to me that this is her trademark song. I guess showbiz gonna biz and jealousy sells.
posted by idiopath at 2:49 PM on September 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


I love Dolly (was just listening to her this morning in the car!) but the saccharine, affected expressions on those people's faces make me want to curl up into a ball and then explode in a blinding flash, wiping humanity off the planet once and for all.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:55 PM on September 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


I love the song - it's a power struggle between two women, and like so many good songs it's about a tough situation that the narrator is apparently trying to make worse. Dolly is a treasure.
posted by Peach at 3:00 PM on September 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


edhell, you hit it right on the nose. Makes me respect this song afresh, in a new and deeply touching way.

Dolly is...and this song is...I mean...my God, it's full of stars.
posted by darkstar at 3:00 PM on September 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


Fun fact: my biggest, my heartbreaking high school crush was also born in 1973, which means that he and I are both in our 40s, and though this song no longer relates to us* (in particular) I still think of him when I hear it.

*IRL: "Jolene" ended up being one of my best friends and the dude was totally not worth the angst.
posted by thivaia at 3:04 PM on September 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


Parton's 1973 recording of Jolene is one of my favourite songs, and I've never really been on board with any covers of it, even when (as with the White Stripes or Lucinda Williams) I'm a fan of the artist generally. So, I guess it's no surprise that this version just made me need to cleanse my pallet with the original even though I like the Pentatonix.

But, yay, a Pentatonix post. For those who haven't heard it, I think their cover of Royals is a straight improvement on the (already great) original.
posted by 256 at 3:46 PM on September 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't dig Pentatonix, but this kept popping up on my FB feed yesterday, which led to me binge watching Dolly videos on YouTube last night. I spent a lot of time in Gatlinburg during the summers of my youth, and Dollywood is my own personal happiest place on Earth.
posted by Ruki at 4:19 PM on September 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


I discovered Pentatonix while making a playlist of Sesame Street videos on YouTube. I was, and still am, blown away by their talent. Their use of the voice as instruments is some of the best I have ever seen. I also think it is wonderful that they have applied their talents to so many genres and been successful. I can't wait to see the places they go.
posted by Catbunny at 4:20 PM on September 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


If I could sing, I'd do this song in a medley with Fist City.
posted by not that girl at 5:15 PM on September 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


I love Dolly (was just listening to her this morning in the car!) but the saccharine, affected expressions on those people's faces make me want to curl up into a ball and then explode in a blinding flash, wiping humanity off the planet once and for all.

Pentatonix are an amazing unit for making musical sounds, but they've never moved me worth a damn. Cf her original.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:27 PM on September 17, 2016 [2 favorites]



It's also a little funny given that it's Dolly Parton singing it. I cannot compete with you, Jolene... all I've got is a thousand people's worth of skill and talent and drive. And character a mile deep. And oh yeah I'm rich. And super hot. But apart from that...


...or....she was taking on a character's voice when she wrote it? You know, how like Mark Knopfler was writing in the voice of a TV repair guy in "Money for Nothing", or like Glen Campbell did in "Wichita Lineman"?

...random story - I once played a pub quiz where one round of questions was that the host would play snippets of random songs backwards, and you had to identify it based on that. My team and I all instantly spotted the clip from "Jolene" he used for it, and for most of the rest of the night we would periodically burst into singalongs of "Neeloj, Neeloj, Neeloj, nee-looooooj....."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:46 PM on September 17, 2016 [5 favorites]


Oh - and here is a clip of her segment when she was honored by the Kennedy Center in 2006.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:52 PM on September 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


...or....she was taking on a character's voice when she wrote it?

I am familiar with the concept of fiction, yes, and did not believe that Springsteen knocked up his high-school girlfriend and spent a while doing construction or that Chapman used to have a boyfriend with a high-powered automobile. But it's still like those movies where, say, Amanda Seyfried is assigned to the "dumpy sidekick" role.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:28 PM on September 17, 2016 [7 favorites]


Those of us lucky enough to live in the greenest state in the land of the free and the home of the grand ole opry* can have Dolly Parton license plates. Dolly founded the Imagination Library, a completely free service that sends age-appropriate books each month to thousands of kids under five years old.

Because Dolly Parton is 100% pure, unadulterated AWESOME.
posted by workerant at 7:44 PM on September 17, 2016 [22 favorites]


Woof, seeing her name with a date next to it had me thinking this might be an obit thread, for a sickening millisecond... Big feels I didn't expect. Going into a Dolly dive now, so thank you.
posted by cotton dress sock at 7:45 PM on September 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


I used to hate Dolly Parton. I hadn't heard any of her music, but as a big titted girl (and I use girl in the appropriate sense of 'female child) I heard a whole lotta 'jokes' and comparisons. My mother would occasionally correct me but it took until becoming an adult for me to respect and love her on her terms.

Fuck the haters, and the people who reduce her to anything other than the epic awesome woman she is.
posted by geek anachronism at 8:14 PM on September 17, 2016 [8 favorites]


Dolly Parton is awesome, and is a genuinely nice person too.

Per Wikipedia, the single of "Jolene" was originally released in October 1973. I was born in October 1973. It's the same age as I am!
posted by SisterHavana at 8:33 PM on September 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


I saw Dolly a couple of years ago at a music festival (well more like I saw glimpses of her on a screen - it was insanely crowded, and I managed to be surrounded by very tall people) - her voice has aged amazingly well - unless she was lip syncing, if you closed your eyes, it easily could've seemed like her decades ago. Unlike some of her contemporaries who are
a) vocally diminished, but still strong (Paul McCartney)
b) in need of accompaniment by younger voices (Brian Wilson)
c) has to reinterpret songs to make up for lost range (Robert Plant)
d) or has a voice that is just totally shot (Willie Nelson, George Clinton)
Dolly seems to need no compensations to account for age. A grandparent, parent, and grandchild could attend the same show without any of them wallowing in nostalgia, or saddened that they caught her past peak. As a middle aged guy who still hasn't quite come to terms with the me at my peak powers (at anything) being the me of the past, it warms the cockles of my heart.
posted by Calloused_Foot at 8:57 PM on September 17, 2016 [3 favorites]


And I know it's been decades and they claim their company culture has changed (apparently only a tiny bit), but I've never once been in a Cracker Barrel after the whole "we hate the queers" firing people thing in the early 90s, and seeing their logo come up at the beginning of this video raised the hackles on my neck.

Just wanted to share this again. Because exactly and yes.
posted by Mike Mongo at 9:02 PM on September 17, 2016 [2 favorites]


Pentatonix has been partnered with Cracker Barrel for a while now, since at least last year. The first place I heard about them was seeing the album in a Cracker Barrel gift shop.
posted by themanwho at 9:42 PM on September 17, 2016


Jolene was a Yuletide fanfic nomination a few years ago, and 8 fanfics were written based on it. Several of them wind up being Jolene/Narrator instead of, or in addition to, Jolene/Narrator's fellow.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:58 PM on September 17, 2016 [4 favorites]


I've listened to (and loved) a lot of Acapella over the years, but Pentatonix leaves me cold for reasons I can't quite put my finger on. I think it's because they seem to take themselves really seriously? But I'm not sure. They sound OK, but I can never make it through a full song.

But Dolly was great, and man, her voice still holds up!
posted by greermahoney at 10:15 AM on September 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


This Strawberry Switchblade version is my favorite.
posted by azarbayejani at 10:53 AM on September 18, 2016


Pentatonix leaves me cold for reasons I can't quite put my finger on

For me it's the beard on the guy, that one, with the beard.
Nope.
posted by signal at 10:58 AM on September 18, 2016


Being a child of the 80s, my largest exposure to Dolly growing up was one full episode of her variety show, Dolly, that we had on VHS almost certainly because the guests included Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt (both of whom my parents greatly admired). They performed songs from their Trio album (which incidentally, I just learned was nominated for Album of the Year, competing against Whitney Houston (Whitney), Prince (Sign o' the Times), and Michael Jackson (Bad), with all of them losing to U2 (Joshua Tree). Tough year.).

As a kid, I always thought Dolly was the weak link and didn't really deserve to be in that group. As an adult, I've rethought that position.
posted by pitrified at 1:24 PM on September 18, 2016


Dolly's voice has changed though. Listening to this you can hear that she doesn't sing the same way she used to she has refined and developed her vocal technique very carefully so that she can still be Dolly. This is not how she sang in 1973. She's singing very quietly and letting the microphone do more of the work.
posted by wabbittwax at 4:39 PM on September 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


Pentatonix leaves me cold for reasons I can't quite put my finger on

For me it's a (perceived, at least) lack of "soul." It's impossible for me to deny that they are incredible musicians, technical to a fault. But they always seem to be reveling in the technical virtuosity for its own sake, and the emotional power of songs never quite seem to break through the technique.
posted by Doc Ezra at 8:40 PM on September 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's impossible for me to deny that they are incredible musicians, technical to a fault. But they always seem to be reveling in the technical virtuosity for its own sake, and the emotional power of songs never quite seem to break through the technique.

I can see what you mean in a lot of their stuff. Still, I feel like their cover of Mary, Did You Know? doesn't fit that pattern. I don't like a lot of their stuff, but I love this... I mean I like the song for bringing a new angle on an old story from a sort of literary perspective (ok, someone who actually knows about literary things, will come tell me that's not the right way to put it...but I mean it makes you think about the story must have been like from the point of view of one character, and of course she probably DIDN'T know.. but anyway...), but they didn't write the song. But I think they get the emotion down especially with the last line "That sleeping child is the great I Am." which is meant to be a mind-blowing thing and comes across that way.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:46 PM on September 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


Pentatonix seems to be executing very expert Bach arrangements of songs that really need a lot of Debussy going on. If that makes any sense.

I was listening to a lot of a cappella bands back in the 80s during the that wave of their recording popularity. There were a lot of bands doing much more simple things that simply FELT more. I like my music to be expertly performed, but I also want to feel.

I've never seen Pentatonix live, and I wonder if they get a bit more soul into their performances before an audience than they do in the studio.
posted by hippybear at 8:53 PM on September 18, 2016


I saw an interview once that had this exchange:

Dolly: You know what really burns my ass, though?
Reporter: No. what?
Dolly (holding hand next to her butt): A flame about this high.

Then she did that Dolly laugh and added another ten years to how long I'm going to love her.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:20 AM on September 19, 2016 [16 favorites]


The two people I want to hang with in my life are Dolly and Mel Brooks. I bet they are both amazing to hang with.
posted by stormpooper at 7:26 AM on September 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


i'm seeing dolly live this weekend and i can't wait i'm going to cry and cry so much

also, on my second date with my now-bf we watched rhinestone because he knew how much i loved dolly and he looooves terrible movies and good lord that movie is absolutely awful but somehow in some nearly impossible way dolly is still a perfect goddess in it
posted by burgerrr at 9:10 AM on September 19, 2016 [4 favorites]


Hey petrified - have you seen the new "Complete Trio" box set they released earlier this month? Includes previously unreleased tracks, such as this beautiful a capella Calling My Children Home
posted by MOWOG at 12:43 PM on September 19, 2016


Oh hey, the Kennedy Center link reminded me that Pentatonix has been there too.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:27 PM on September 19, 2016


See others have mentioned it, but the Trio re-release has the two original albums and then a bonus album of unreleased songs. Highly recommend the physical version if you can get it! Tons of liner notes from all three artists and pretty gorgeous packaging compared to what is normally out there these days. They do an acapella version of Gray Funnel Line that is unreal.

I also saw Dolly Parton last month and she is SO GREAT live. Please go see her if you can. Be prepared to switch between laughing and crying a lot.
posted by SarahElizaP at 8:02 PM on September 19, 2016


I've been sitting here for the last twenty minutes enjoying this with my wife, Ellen Jolene (b. 1975), so thanks.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 6:37 AM on September 20, 2016


How did I not know that Dolly Parton wrote "I Will Always Love You"?! Porter Wagoner must have been a special dude.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:38 AM on September 21, 2016


How did I not know that Dolly Parton wrote "I Will Always Love You"?! Porter Wagoner must have been a special dude.

Subject of one of my favorite segments of Drunk History.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:01 PM on September 21, 2016


I just remembered this bit from the 2006 Oscars - Dolly did a song from the film TRANSAMERICA, and it was nominated for Best Song that year. Alas, it lost to "Hard Out Here For A Pimp", the performance of which featured interpretive dance. But this was just Dolly on her own and she got the whole place to clap along and I maintained she should have won.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:09 PM on September 21, 2016


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