It doesn’t matter if you love country music or not, almost everyone knows who Dolly Parton is. Over a career that has spanned decades, she has been responsible for some of the most iconic songs that have ever existed in country music. In fact, she has done something that very few musicians are capable of doing. She has transcended the genre in such a manner that even people who don’t listen to that particular style of music know who she is. If you’re wondering about some of her more well-known songs, you’ve come to the right place.
20. From Here to the Moon and Back (2012)
This is probably one of the sweetest songs you’re ever likely to hear, whether you listen to country or virtually any other genre of music. The title is fairly self-explanatory. It talks about loving someone from here to the moon and back, no matter what the circumstances. It really is a song about unconditional love, the type of love that we all wish we had ourselves and the type of love that most people hope to give to someone else at some point in their life.
19. But You Know I Love You (1980)
This is another song about love. Chances are, you already figured that out from the song’s title. What you might not know is this. The song tells a story about two people who don’t always see eye-to-eye, yet through it all, they never lose the love that they have for each other. This is the song that many people believe tells the story of real life. Even when you love someone more than you can even imagine, you aren’t always going to agree with them on every single thing. However, it’s possible to put those differences aside and realize that even when you don’t agree with somebody, that doesn’t mean that you have to stop loving them as a person. It’s perfectly fine to disagree and still feel that close kinship that you’ve always felt.
18. Before The Next Teardrop Falls (1996)
This was originally a classic recorded by another country music artist (Freddy Fender) in 1974. Parton covered it a little more than 20 years later. It talks about love lost and the tears that go with living through such an event. It is quite the tear-jerker in its own right, something that Dolly Parton has become synonymous with.
17. Hard Candy Christmas (2001)
Dolly Parton is known for singing some sad songs throughout her career, and this is definitely one of them. She uses the title of the song as sort of a play on words to tell the story of having a Christmas that is bittersweet, at the very best. In the song, she talks about being unhappy and about not having much in the way of material possessions. She’s also heartbroken at the way things have turned out in her life. If you’ve ever gone through a time in your life where you feel like practically everything has gone wrong, this is a song that you can identify with. However, it’s one that you may not want to listen to if you’re feeling down unless you plan on having a box of tissues with you.
16. Do I Ever Cross Your Mind (1977)
During the 1970s, it was very popular to sing about loving someone while simultaneously either being with someone else on the side or knowing that the person you love is with someone else. In this song, she sings about knowing that the person she still loves is with another individual and she’s asking whether or not she crosses his mind when he’s with that other person. This was a theme that was popular not only in music, but in television and film as well. As a result, it was also one of the most popular songs she ever recorded during the 1970s.
15. My Tennessee Mountain Home (1973)
Parton was raised in Tennessee and she has very fond memories of her childhood. This is a song that is very close to her heart because it tells the story of that place where she grew up. Every good country song includes a lot of angst, and that’s certainly true with this one as well. That said, she talks about always being able to go back home and her memories of finding that special place where everything was always exactly as it should have been.
14. Here You Come Again (1977)
This is another song that deals with cheating, but this time there is a bit of humor involved with it as well. In the song, she knows that the person that she’s been with for the majority of her adult life is cheating on her and she talks about throwing him out. The song gets its title because she talks about him coming back. There’s even a point in the song where she says the lyrics “Here you come again and there I go,” implying that she doesn’t need anyone to help her feel secure or confident and that she’s more than capable of handling things on her own. As such, it became something of an anthem for women who felt like they too had been jilted during an era when women had traditionally been expected to allow men to cheat and keep quiet about it.
13. Love is Like a Butterfly (1974)
This is a song that is so simple it’s almost ridiculous, yet it couldn’t be more true. When you stop and think about it, love really is like a butterfly. It’s beautiful in the extreme but it’s also incredibly fragile. If you don’t give it its freedom, you run a genuine risk of crushing it until there’s absolutely nothing left. However, the very act of giving it its freedom means that it might very well fly away, never to be seen again. It’s a song that uses this metaphor in an incredibly effective way and it tells a beautiful story, all at the same time.
12. Islands In the Stream (1982)
Dolly Parton was well known for doing duets with Kenny Rogers and this is one of the most popular ones that they ever did. Again, the song relies on metaphor, referring to the two of them being the islands in the proverbial stream. It really is a love song, but it’s sung in such a way that it almost has a tropical vibe to it. Furthermore, it became one of the biggest hits of either artist’s career.
11. 9 to 5 (1980)
This song was written to accompany a movie of the same title, in which Parton also stars. It talks about working an endless number of hours and getting absolutely nothing in return. There are parts of the movie that are funny and the song is no different. However, there is also a deeper message to be understood. Much of the song talks about putting forth an exceptional amount of effort in an attempt to rise up through the ranks in a professional sense, only to be held back simply because of one’s gender. Remember, this song was released in 1980 when women were largely expected to be homemakers. At the time, it was a tremendous struggle for women to work in the professional world and be treated with any equality whatsoever. This is a song that speaks to that struggle.
10. Rockin’ Years (1981)
This is a sweet song that she did where she talks about being much older, sitting in a rocking chair and reminiscing about all of the things that she has done throughout her life. She speaks of some of the struggles that most people can identify with throughout their own lifetime, but also of the joys. She also sings about the joys outweighing those struggles when it’s time to sit back in the twilight of one’s life and look back at everything that’s happened.
9. Tennessee Homesick Blues (1984)
As previously mentioned, she grew up in Tennessee. This is a song that she wrote herself about living a fast-paced life as a bona fide country music star who had a schedule that seemed far too busy at times. She would sing about being homesick and wanting to go back to Tennessee, a place where she always felt like she could center herself and get away from the hustle and bustle of everything else that was going on. Like everyone else, she too would get homesick from time to time and this is a song that talks about those feelings, as well as paying homage to a place that has always been near and dear to her.
8. Dumb Blonde (1967)
She once commented that people have a tendency to think that all blondes are stupid, especially when the blonde in question is a woman who is well endowed in the chest, which Parton is well known for. This is a song that talks about that stereotype and how frustrating it is when you just happen to be a well-endowed blonde woman. In the song, she talks about people not taking her seriously or not believing that she knows what she is talking about because of her physical appearance. The song serves as a platform to tell people off because she wants to be understood for who she is, not how she looks. It’s also a song that a lot of other women can identify with, as well as anyone else who has ever been judged by their appearance alone.
7. Forever Country (2016)
As you might notice from the release date, this is one of her more recent songs. It talks about the changes that have occurred in society over the course of the last several decades. More specifically, it talks about how those changes have had a direct impact on country music. She discusses how this genre is nothing like it was when she first got into it and how that is a good thing in some cases and not so good in others. Ultimately, she talks about remaining true to her roots, no matter how much things have a tendency to change over the years.
6. Sweet Summer Lovin’ (1979)
This is another duet that she sang and just as the title implies, it’s all about falling in love. It’s not a serious song with a deep meaning. Instead, it was intended to be something that could be fun, talking about the types of emotions that are evoked in a person when they begin to fall in love.
5. When Life Is Good Again (2020)
This song is very fitting for something that was released in 2020, considering the pandemic and the global lockdown that happened as a direct result of it. In part, the song talks about when life is good again, meaning when things can return back to normal. However, it goes on to have a deeper meaning. Ultimately, it talks about not waiting until everything is ideal for life to become good again. It also talks about finding happiness within oneself and finding one’s own peace so that life can be good, even in the midst of turmoil and chaos.
4. Hello God (2002)
Who hasn’t been through times in their lives when they struggled immensely with what felt like the weight of the world on their shoulders? This is a song that talks about that feeling and how there are times when there is absolutely nothing that you as a human being can do except go to God and have a conversation about what is happening. For believers, it’s something that resonates very well but there is something in there for non-believers as well. It opens up the possibility of having those types of conversations, even if the person having it isn’t entirely sure that there is someone listening on the other side. At the end of the day, it’s about developing that relationship and that process has to start somewhere. As such, it’s a song that has inspired people from all walks of life and all levels of faith. That’s a beautiful legacy, to say the least.
3. Jolene (1974)
Like so many songs of the 1970s, this one talks about having a husband who is cheating. However, in this song, she goes directly to the other woman and decides to have a conversation with her about why it is wrong for her to be doing this. It’s probably not a song that a lot of people would resonate with if it were newly released today, but it was hugely popular in its time. As such, it’s still one of her more popular songs.
2. Coat of Many Colors (1968)
Any person that’s ever felt like an underdog can identify with this song. It discusses having very little money, but having so much love. In the song, she sings from the perspective of a child whose mother has made her a coat from all kinds of different scraps of material, hence the title of the song itself. She’s very proud to wear this coat because it is an expression of love but when she gets to school, all of the other children make fun of her because of its mismatched material. The song talks about the pain that is felt when someone is ostracized by their peers, yet the immense pride that goes with knowing that you are loved unconditionally, even to the point that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.
1. I Will Always Love You (1974)
This is an iconic song. It was later recorded by Whitney Houston and made popular as a Pop song. Just as the title implies, it is a glorious and heartfelt ballad that talks about loving someone with your whole heart, regardless of circumstances. The message is as beautiful as the lyrics and that’s why it firmly holds the number one spot.