Whether you're a country music fan or not, there's no denying Dolly Parton is one of the most influential and famous artists of all time. Dolly began composing music over 70 years ago and is still making music to this day. Here are some of the best Dolly Parton songs ever.
Song Year: 1973
Arguably one of the most famous and beloved songs Dolly Parton has ever written is “Jolene.” Even almost 50 years later, the song resonates with people of all ages who've ever been worried about a beautiful woman coming to steal the one they love.
Dolly sings about how she's worried this beautiful woman with auburn hair will take her man solely because she can. The song tells a great story, and the music is incredibly catchy. It's still one of the songs she regularly performs to this day, and people enjoy listening to it.
“9 to 5”
Song Year: 1980
“9 to 5” came out as Dolly was making her first film appearance, making it one of the most well-known and transformative songs Dolly had ever recorded over her 50 years in the industry. The song has won several awards and, despite being written in 1980, is still famous now.
The song is all about how working a traditional job can be taxing on anyone, especially women. Nowadays, it's more of a feminist anthem that describes how hard it can be to work “9 to 5” while managing everything else. The beat is super fun to sing and dance to.
Song Year: 1967
People referring to women with blonde hair as dumb isn't something new, and Dolly Parton wrote a since in the 1960s that depicts this stereotype and how harmful it is. “Dumb Blonde” is about telling people not to underestimate her or other blondes just because of their hair color.
The song has been used in several movies since coming out, allowing it to remain relevant and resonate with a whole new audience.
“Baby, I'm Burnin”
Song Year: 1978
Dolly Parton is known for crossing and blending genres, but “Baby I'm Burnin'” is considered her first actual dance hit. Even without the lyrics, the song is excellent and one that will surely get everyone up and dancing.
As for the lyrics, they talk about someone irresistible. There are metaphors throughout the song about being on fire because of how someone makes her feel. The lyrics are typical of a great dance hit in the sense they repeat a lot, but it's easy to learn!
“Here You Come Again”
Song Year: 1977
“Here You Come Again” was pivotal in Dolly Parton's career. This song came out when she started crossing from country to pop, not that she's ever entirely left behind her country music roots. It was a chart-topping song for both pop and country music.
This song helped boost the album it was on and ended up being her first album to sell a million copies. Anyone who's ever started to get over someone they loved only to have them walk back into their life will understand the song. It's beautiful and well done.
Song Year: 2008
It's no secret that women always face ridicule about their looks. It's been an issue for centuries, and as beautiful as Dolly Parton is, she's not the exception to this issue. Her song “Backwoods Barbie” describes the problem and her personal experience with her appearance.
“Backwoods Barbie” features lyrics about how Dolly grew up in the country and how she wanted to look pretty like the other girls. She then sings about how she's comfortable with her look but still gets hateful. The song is fun with a powerful message.
“Love Is Like a Butterfly”
Song Year: 1974
“Love Is Like a Butterfly” is a beautiful song from Dolly Parton that's all about love. As the name suggests, she compares love to a butterfly in many ways throughout the lyrics. The main ones mention how love is delicate, gentle, and beautiful.
The song was famous at the time and even became the theme song for the hit British sitcom, “Butterflies.” Butterflies became an essential feature for Dolly and even appeared on her Dollywood Logo.
Song Year: 2014
Dolly Parton has some excellent upbeat songs that everyone loves, but she also has powerful ballads that can pull at your heartstrings. “Unlikely Angel” is a love ballad that shares the name with her 1996 Christmas Film, “Unlikely Angel.”
She recorded the song for the movie, and even though it came out in 1996, the song wasn't commercially available until 2014. The song is all about redemption, forgiveness, love, and healing. The lyrics are slightly cryptic, allowing the listener to listen and see what resonates with them.
“Why'd You Come in Here Lookin' Like That”
Song Year: 1989
It's well-known that Dolly Parton had a widely successful career, but in 1989, her LP White Limozeen helped rejuvenate her career. “Why'd You Come in Here Lookin' Like That” was a successful chart-topper that stems from that LP.
The song is all about how her man dresses, walks, talks, and acts. The combination of the four is enough to drive her crazy, making her wonder why he showed up looking the way he did. If you've ever been crazy about someone will understand this song.
Song Year: 1989
“Yellow Roses” is another beautiful song that came from her White Limozeen LP. Dolly Parton has a beautiful and unique voice, but she often doesn't get credit for her songwriting abilities. When she released this song, it reminded everyone how powerful her voice and songwriting skills are.
The song is a ballad about love. The man in the song brings yellow roses to her several times, and the song discusses how she thinks of him whenever she sees a yellow rose. It landed high on the country charts for several weeks.
“Do I Ever Cross Your Mind”
Song Year: 1976
“Do I Ever Cross Your Mind” is one of the most popular Dolly Parton songs due to her iconic live performances of the song when it was first coming out. Even for years after it came out, she and her band would sing the song like they inhaled helium for fun, making it a well-known song solely for that.
The song features lyrics that talk about how little things in life remind her of an ex-partner, and she wonders if they have the same experiences.
“Just Because I'm a Woman”
Song Year: 1968
Dolly Parton has several songs that discuss the issues around being a woman and the double standards that come along with it. “Just Because I'm a Woman” is somber and very matter-of-fact rather than having several metaphors like other songs.
She sings about how she wants people to know precisely where she stands regarding certain things. Women get a lot more stress for the same mistakes that men make, so she wants people to know that her mistakes are no worse simply because she's a woman.
Song Year: 1994
“To Daddy” was a sore spot for Dolly and Porter in the 1970s. Another artist originally recorded the song, and Dolly's version came out decades later, in 1994. Even still, most people consider this to be a Dolly Parton song through and through.
For those with a father who wasn't always there emotionally and who eventually left, this song will hit home and can even be a tear-jerker. “To Daddy” is a strong, powerful, and impactful song that showcases Dolly's talent and voice.
“I Will Always Love You”
Song Year: 1974
“I Will Always Love You” is a beautiful ballad many people play at weddings, despite how sad the song is. Everyone knows about Dolly and Porter's duet partnership, and this song was an ode to wanting independence from their duet.
The lyrics to the song are all about how Dolly wants some space from her partner, but it doesn't mean she will stop loving him. Other themes throughout the song are how she knows she must leave because it's best for both of them, no matter how difficult.
“Potential New Boyfriend”
Song Year: 1983
“Potential New Boyfriend” comes from Dolly Parton's Burlap & Satin album in 1983. The song is a fun number about seeing an attractive man and how he looks like he could be her potential boyfriend. Anyone who's ever seen someone they think looks good will understand the idea behind the song.
While it wasn't originally a dance hit, it slowly became popular. Dolly's queer audience took hold of the song thanks to a cover that a famous drag queen did over 30 years after its original release.
“Tennessee Homesick Blues”
Song Year: 1984
Even if you don't know much about Dolly Parton, you know that she's a country girl at heart and was raised in Tennessee. “Tennessee Homesick Blues” is a love song about Dolly's home state and everything she loved about growing up and living there.
Dolly sings about how New York City has nothing on Tennessee and the country. She sings about missing her mom's chocolate cake, and how she wishes she could sleep in her feather bed and other things she loves about her home. It's a beautiful song most people can relate to in some ways.
Song Year: 1976
Most people think that “Shattered Image” is a lighthearted song thanks to the fun and catchy beat, but the song has some deeper underlying themes. The central theme that Dolly wanted to convey through this song is her complicated relationship with Hollywood tabloids.
She sings about how people can shatter the image of yourself by being cruel and not truly understanding the real you. Dolly herself states that she has thick skin, but not everyone does, so it's better to be friendly and not shatter others' images.
“Don't Make Me Have To Come Down There”
Song Year: 2023
“Don't Make Me Have To Come Down There” tells a story about God. In the song, God is the one saying the song's title because he's the one watching down on everyone below where they're at.
The story behind the lyrics is that there will be consequences if you don't follow his words (whatever you believe them to be). “Don't Make Me Have to Come Down There” wasn't one of her most popular songs for every single fan she has, but many people loved it, and at the end of the day, the vocal chorus is stunning.
Song Year: 1977
1977 was when Dolly Parton started to transition into pop music. When she released “Applejack,” it was an excellent reminder for those who were worried she would give up on country music that she's still a country singer and will continue to make music in both genres.
“Applejack” is a lighthearted song about a man who lives in an apple orchard and his life doing so. The lyrics in the song feature classic country symbolism like banjos, farmland, and living a quiet and simple life.
“Eagle When She Flies”
Song Year: 1991
Dolly Parton sings about eagles often, and in her 1991 ballad, “Eagle When She Flies,” she compares an eagle to a sparrow. It's a delicate feminist anthem about how wonderful women are for their strength and ability to wear several hats at once.
Something interesting about this Dolly song is that it was initially the first choice as the theme song for Steel Magnolias, but it was ultimately never used for this production. Regardless, it still became a very popular Dolly Parton song.
Song Year: 1978
Dolly Parton has a great voice, but one song that really showcases her vocal range and abilities is “Heartbreaker.” It's one of several of her iconic songs that is a cross between pop and country music.
The song is all about someone who is a heartbreaker. She sings about how she should've known that this person would break her heart, but it still hurts. It's a sad song many people can relate to, but it's still pretty fun to listen to.
Song Year: 1983
There was a time when Southerners needed to travel North to the Appalachian Mountains to find work. Dolly Parton's dad was one of those people. She sings about how they loaded up the family and drove North to the mountains.
Dolly Parton sings about the beautiful night sky where you can see the stars, the mountain air, how everyone's doing back home, and the other memories she made with her family while in the Appalachian Mountains. The original song is wonderful, but there's a remastered version with strong instrumentals.
“More Where That Came From”
Song Year: 1993
“More Where That Came From” is a fun song by Dolly about how just because you're dating and in love with someone, you'll still learn more about them or feel their love in new ways. She sings about how just when you think you've seen it all, there's more love where that came from.
The song's title also is seen as a subtle dig at country music radio. She felt that her age made radio stations ignore her, but there's been no way to confirm or deny if that's why the song has that title.
“My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy”
Song Year: 1969
Not all of Dolly Parton's songs are based on her personal experience or that of people she knows. Something about songwriting and performing is writing stories and telling them through song.
“My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy” is about a woman working as a prostitute and down on her luck. Her life only gets worse when the man she's in love with is living states away from her. The song is fun to listen to and one of her best.
“Touch Your Woman”
Song Year: 1972
Something that makes Dolly stand out among other artists, especially of her time in the 1970s, is her ability to be vulnerable through her music. Her song “Touch Your Woman” is about telling men or women to help comfort their woman with a comforting touch.
The song stems from her own needs and wanting to tell people that sometimes all women want is to be held by the one they love and hear that everything is going to be okay.
“Poor Folks' Town”
Song Year: 1972
One of the most catchy songs Dolly's released (and she has a lot of them) is “Poor Folks' Town.” The song has a wonderful message about how being rich doesn't necessarily mean you're rolling in money.
Dolly sings about how they live in a poor town but are still rich. She means they're rich in love, experiences, and happiness rather than financially rich. The song is fun to listen to and has a beautifully powerful message about how money can't buy happiness.
“Dagger Through the Heart”
Song Year: 2002
“Dagger Through the Heart” is a song for everyone who's ever been cheated on in a relationship. Dolly Parton sings about how she knows she's being cheated on but can't bring herself to leave.
Every time they cheat on her, she feels like she's stabbed in the heart. This early 2000s song is one of her best and resonates with a lot of people, unfortunately.
“All I Can Do”
Song Year: 1976
“All I Can Do” comes from one of her Grammy-nominated albums. It's one of the best love songs she ever sang, and that's saying something because she has tons of great love songs.
Dolly sings about how all she can do is try her best not to fall in love with someone. The issue is that the person makes them feel different feelings that make it almost impossible not to fall in love with the song's subject.
“My Tennessee Mountain Home”
Song Year: 1973
Dolly's known for writing and singing songs about her roots in Tennessee. “My Tennessee Mountain Home” is all about her home in the state, how it makes her feel, and everything she used to do there.
Some of the lyrics are about how she would live a peaceful life there, pick grapes, write songs, and more. The song is beautiful and will make anyone miss their home, even if it's not in Tennessee.
“Coat of Many Colors”
Song Year: 1971
“Coat of Many Colors” is a heartfelt song that Dolly Parton wrote and sang about her mother's patchwork coat she had made for the singer. Her mother took random patches of colorful rags, sewed them together, and created a unique coat with several colors, hence the name.
The song is playful, heartfelt, and overall one of her best songs. Anyone who has a special relationship with their mother will appreciate this song.
“Hard Candy Christmas”
Song Year: 1982
Lastly, we have “Hard Candy Christmas.” It was arguably the star of the show in the movie, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. The song is about how someone is going through a hard time and comparing it to a hard candy you can enjoy on Christmas.
Some of the lyrics are about how they want to dye their hair, move on from their town, and that they're barely getting by. It's one of her songs that's better understood when you listen to it in the movie first. It's a unique song but worth a listen.
Top Dolly Parton Songs, Final Thoughts
From her iconic song “Jolene” to some of her lesser-known songs that only true fans would know, there's no denying Dolly Parton has beautiful songs. Next time you want to listen to this successful artist, you can't go wrong with any of these top songs.