Dolly Parton is an iconic singer, songwriter, actress, and businesswoman who has been entertaining audiences for over five decades. Known for her distinctive voice, heartfelt lyrics, and larger-than-life personality, Parton has become one of the most beloved country music stars of all time. She has also crossed over into pop music and has even found success as an actress, starring in films such as “9 to 5” and “Steel Magnolias”. With over 100 million records sold worldwide and countless awards and accolades, Parton’s impact on the music industry is undeniable.
With such a vast discography to choose from, it can be difficult to narrow down the top 10 best Dolly Parton songs of all time. However, there are certain tracks that have stood the test of time and continue to be fan favorites. From empowering anthems to heart-wrenching ballads, Parton’s songs have a way of connecting with listeners on a deep emotional level. Whether you’re a lifelong fan or just discovering her music, this list is sure to showcase some of Parton’s most memorable and impactful songs.
1. “I Will Always Love You”
“I Will Always Love You” is a timeless classic that has been covered by many artists, but Parton’s original version remains the most iconic. The song is a heartfelt ballad about a love that has come to an end, but the singer’s affection for the person will never fade. Parton’s emotional vocals, paired with the simple but powerful lyrics, make for a moving listening experience that has resonated with audiences for decades. The song was written by Parton herself and originally released in 1974, but it gained renewed popularity in 1992 when Whitney Houston covered it for the movie “The Bodyguard.” However, Parton’s original version still stands as a testament to her songwriting talent and vocal ability. The stripped-down instrumentation allows Parton’s voice to shine, and the song’s gentle melody and heartfelt lyrics make it a perfect representation of the country music genre. “I Will Always Love You” remains one of Dolly Parton’s most beloved and well-known songs and a testament to her enduring legacy in the music industry.
2. “9 to 5”
“9 to 5” is a classic hit song by Dolly Parton, released in 1980. The song was written for the film of the same name, in which Parton starred. It became a massive commercial success, reaching the top of the charts in several countries, including the US and the UK. The song’s catchy melody and relatable lyrics about the daily grind of working a 9-to-5 job struck a chord with audiences. Parton’s strong vocals and upbeat delivery add to the song’s fun and empowering tone. The memorable chorus, with its iconic “working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living” line, has become a pop culture reference that is still recognized and celebrated today. “9 to 5” earned Parton an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song and won several other awards, cementing its status as one of her most beloved and well-known hits.
3. “Coat of Many Colors”
“Coat of Many Colors” is a touching ballad by Dolly Parton that tells the story of her childhood growing up poor in rural Tennessee. The song is based on a true story from Parton’s own life, in which her mother sewed her a coat made out of rags, which became a symbol of love and security for the young girl. Parton’s powerful vocals convey the emotions of the song’s lyrics, which celebrate the importance of family, faith, and perseverance. The simple yet memorable melody is accompanied by gentle acoustic guitar and a subtle string arrangement, which give the song a nostalgic and heartfelt quality. “Coat of Many Colors” has become one of Parton’s most beloved and enduring songs, inspiring many covers and adaptations, and has been praised for its honest and authentic portrayal of the struggles and triumphs of rural life.
“Jolene” is a country classic written and performed by Dolly Parton. The song was released in 1973 and became one of Parton’s most iconic hits. The song tells the story of a woman pleading with another woman named Jolene to not take her man, as she feels that Jolene could easily steal him away with her beauty and charm. The song’s melody is slow and haunting, with Parton’s vocals perfectly conveying the emotion and desperation of the lyrics. “Jolene” has been covered by numerous artists, and has remained a staple in the country music canon, cementing Parton’s place as one of the greatest country music icons of all time.
5. “Islands in the Stream”
“Islands in the Stream” is a duet song sung by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, released in 1983. The song was written by the Bee Gees, and it became one of the most successful country-pop collaborations of all time. The song’s melody and lyrics are catchy and easy to sing along to, making it a crowd favorite at parties and karaoke bars. The song speaks about a couple’s deep love for each other and their willingness to go through any struggles in life together. Parton and Rogers’ vocal harmonies are excellent, and the catchy chorus is sure to get stuck in your head for days. The song won the CMA Award for Vocal Duo of the Year and was named one of the greatest duets of all time by Rolling Stone.
6. “Here You Come Again”
“Here You Come Again” is a country-pop song by Dolly Parton that was released in 1977. It became a crossover hit, reaching the top 10 on both the country and pop charts. The song features catchy lyrics and a bouncy melody that make it instantly recognizable. Parton’s vocals are lively and upbeat as she sings about the return of an ex-lover who she knows will only bring trouble. The song’s catchy chorus, “Here you come again, just when I’ve begun to get myself together,” is sure to have listeners singing along. The upbeat arrangement features twangy guitar riffs and a grooving bassline that give the song an infectious energy. “Here You Come Again” remains one of Parton’s most beloved and enduring hits, showcasing her ability to bridge the gap between country and pop music.
7. “Two Doors Down”
“Two Doors Down” is a fun and catchy country-pop song by Dolly Parton that tells the story of a woman who is ready to hit the town and let loose after a breakup. With upbeat guitar and piano riffs and a sing-along chorus, the song is a perfect representation of Parton’s signature style that blends country and pop elements seamlessly. Parton’s smooth and twangy vocals add to the playful and energetic vibe of the song, making it impossible not to tap your feet and sing along. “Two Doors Down” became a hit for Parton in 1978, reaching the top five on the country charts and the top twenty on the pop charts. The song has since become a fan favorite and a staple of Parton’s live shows, showcasing her ability to create uplifting and catchy tunes that resonate with audiences of all ages.
8. “It’s All Wrong, But It’s All Right”
“It’s All Wrong, But It’s All Right” is a country-pop song by Dolly Parton. The song was released in 1978 as the second single from her album, “Heartbreaker.” The song was a top ten hit on the US Billboard Hot Country Singles chart, peaking at number six. The song tells the story of a woman who is involved in an extramarital affair and knows it’s wrong, but she can’t resist the temptation. The lyrics are about the woman’s inner conflict between the love and the guilt she feels, as she knows that she is hurting her partner but still can’t leave the affair. Dolly Parton’s emotional and heartfelt delivery adds to the song’s sincerity and vulnerability. The song’s production features a prominent electric guitar and a catchy melody, making it a memorable addition to Dolly Parton’s discography. “It’s All Wrong, But It’s All Right” showcases Parton’s ability to deliver a powerful message through her music while still staying true to her country roots.
9. “But You Know I Love You”
“But You Know I Love You” is a country ballad performed by Dolly Parton. The song was released in 1981 and became a massive hit, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. The song talks about a troubled relationship where the singer admits to her lover that even though things aren’t perfect, she still loves him. The song is driven by Parton’s emotive vocals and backed by a beautiful arrangement that blends guitar, piano, and strings. The chorus of the song is particularly memorable, with its repeated refrain of “But you know I love you” serving as a reminder that despite the ups and downs of a relationship, true love endures. “But You Know I Love You” has become one of Parton’s signature songs, and it remains a favorite among country music fans to this day.
10. “Why’d You Come in Here Looking Like That”
“Why’d You Come in Here Looking Like That” is a classic Dolly Parton song that was released in 1989. The song is an upbeat and catchy country tune with a strong rhythm and memorable lyrics. It tells the story of a woman who catches the eye of the singer’s man when she walks into a bar looking stunning and dressed to impress. Parton’s powerful vocals and playful delivery make this song a fan favorite, and it’s a staple of her live performances. The song’s music video, featuring Parton in a variety of flamboyant outfits, is also a fan favorite. “Why’d You Come in Here Looking Like That” is a great example of Parton’s ability to write and perform country songs that are both fun and heartfelt.