Day 200: Dolly Parton – Jolene

16 Sep

Jolene

Anyone familiar with Jack White knows that Jolene is an obvious choice for both White Week and Swole Ear’s 200th album.  A staple of The White Stripe’s live performances, Jack’s rendition of the heartbreaking title track is one of the greatest live performances in history.  White’s version is so good, in fact, that I always find the Parton version a bit disappointing.  Its tempo is too fast, and Dolly just doesn’t put as much into it as Jack.

The rest of this record follows suit.  I just can’t get into Jolene as a whole.  Yes, part of that is due to my dislike of the vast majority of cliché country music, but there’s something else going on here.

After listening to the album, I find myself tempted to give Dolly Parton the same advice that I gave to Bethany Cosetino of Best Coast.  Don’t let dudes control your life!  From the title track, where she begs a prettier woman to stay away from her man, to Highlight of My Life, which is about exactly what you’re thinking, nearly every song is about Parton’s doomed relationships, heartache, and even more obnoxiously, the stories where love actually works out in the end.

However, I must say that for a cliché country record, the instrumentation is about as good as you can get.  There’s plenty of good ol’ twangy guitar, both acoustic and steel. That stuff is irresistible regardless of your musical preferences.

Unfortunately, there just isn’t enough redeeming about the record for me to give it another listen.  The fact that I Will Always Love You is on it certainly doesn’t help its cause.  I’m glad that I gave it a listen, though—this is an important piece of Jack White-lore.

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One Response to “Day 200: Dolly Parton – Jolene”

  1. Yuanny Dollar September 17, 2011 at 2:23 am #

    Great choice Mr. Ear. I don’t think you give Dolly P enough credit and I think you overestimate the options available to women in rural America in the middle of the last century, but, regardless, you’re right that the WS version is killer. Thanks for that link. Of course, I spent half an hour watching Jack and Meg videos. I had forgotten how attractive Lego Meg is in Fell in Love with a Girl.

    Dolly and WS are coming from completely different traditions, so a comparison other than I like one better than the other requires a lot of analysis.

    Finally, I don’t think you can completely hate IWALY until you have seen Kevin Costner in THE BODYGUARD. Check it out next time you’ve done something bad and need to punish yourself.

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