Our latest article looks at the ten best Dolly Parton albums from her impressive catalog of close to fifty albums in a career that spans more than 50 years. Summarizing Dolly Parton’s legacy in country music is such an arduous task because she has simply done it all.
With more than 3000 songs and 50 albums under her belt, choosing the ten of her best albums was not easy. From her 1971 album, Coat of Many Colors, that highlighted her humble background to the 1977 album New Harvest…First Gathering that marked new beginnings in her career, we have come up with a list of the ten best Dolly Parton albums of all time.
Here are our rankings.
10. Blue Smoke (2014)
Coming in at number ten on our ranking of the greatest Dolly Parton albums of all time is an album that showed her mainstream side, with experimental country sounds, which she did perfectly.
The album, which was released in 2014, showed that Dolly Parton aged like fine wine, and she was getting better with age. The album features a cover of Bon Jovi’s “Lay Your Hands on Me” as well as Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright.” Throughout the album, Dolly Parton’s powerful vocals stand out throughout the album and prove that she can find the perfect balance between art and slick.
9. New Harvest… First Gathering (1977)
As the album’s title suggests, it was a new harvest for Dolly Parton, who self-produced this album after breaking free of Porter Wagoner’s influence on her musical career. The album escapes from the country sound that is often associated with her and instead aims at getting into the pop charts.
The album opens with a defiant anthem, “Light of a Clear Blue Morning,” which shows her mixed feelings of joy and relief. Although the album didn’t have major hits, it laid the groundwork for her future major hits. Nevertheless, the album reached #1 on the US Billboard Hot Country LPs and position 71 on the US Billboard 200 Chart.
8. Just Because I’m a Woman (1968)
When Dolly Parton received a call from Porter Wagoner in 1967, she thought that Porter wanted to record one of her songs with Norma Jean. However, it turned out to be her most significant breakthrough as she was meant to replace Norman Jean.
This allowed her to perform in front of millions and showcase her talents. Despite one or two weak tracks in the album, such as the final song, “Try Being Lonely,” this album was impressive.
7. 9 To 5 And Odd Jobs (1980)
9 To 5 and Odd Jobs is arguably Dolly Parton’s most intelligent album, talking about the lives of the working class. The album has some incredible tracks, such as the title track, which combined horns and a trademark fusion of piano to create one of the greatest country music songs.
The song “9 – 5” earned Dolly Parton two Grammy Awards. The album also featured some amazing ballads, such as the ninth track, “Dark as a Dungeon,” which reminded us that Dolly Parton is still a country girl at heart.
6. Heart Breaker (1978)
Dolly Parton’s 20th album that Gary Klein and Charles Koppelman produced takes the sixth position in our ranking of the greatest Dolly Parton studio albums of all time. The album saw Dolly Parton delve deeper into pop music with a few songs verging on disco.
It contained two number one hits on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart with the tracks “Heartbreaker” and “I Really Got the Feeling.” The album is certified gold by the RIAA.
5. Little Sparrow (2001)
Little Sparrow is Dolly Parton’s 38th studio album which she dedicated to her father, Lee Parton, who passed away in 2000. Before the album dropped, Dolly Parton described it to have more soul, depth, and breadth than most of her other albums.
As an album, Little Sparrow captured the essence of everything that Dolly Parton lived for. The album was positively acclaimed by critics and peaked at #12 on the US Billboard Top Country Albums Chart and #97 on the US Billboard 200 Chart.
4. The Grass Is Blue (1991)
On our ranking of the greatest Dolly Parton album, the number four album is the Grammy Award-winning album, The Grass Is Blue. The album was released in 1999 at a time when Dolly didn’t have a record label after Decca Records closed its Nashville offices in early 1999.
The album was a fine authentic bluegrass album that any purist would enjoy. The opening track is a spirited cover of Billy Joel’s 1973 song, “Travelin’ Prayer.” The album also features some classic and contemporary songs that helped rejuvenate Dolly Parton’s career.
All in all, the album remains to be a classic bluegrass album.
3. Here You Come Again (1977)
This 1977 Dolly Parton album was her first to get platinum certification from the RIAA. The album featured some great tracks, such as The title track, which spent five weeks at the top of the singles chart. The album peaked at number one on the US Billboard Hot Country LPs and number 20 on the US Billboard 200.
2. Coat of Many Colors (1971)
The title song of this album tells a tale of how Dolly Parton’s mum made a coat of many colors for her daughter rugs from rugs given to her. This album was Dolly Parton at her peak as she poured everything she had into the album.
The album was a blend of hard country music and 60s rock that showed Dolly Parton’s writing prowess which was emotive yet delivered excellently. The album appeared on Time Magazine’s list of 100 Greatest Albums of All Time, and the title track remains to be her most favorite track ever.
Jolene is one of the greatest country albums ever produced, and it easily takes the number one spot in our ranking of the ten best Dolly Parton studio albums of all time. The album was released in 1974 and opens with the title track “Jolene,” a housewife confronts a beautiful woman for having an affair with her husband.
The track was the album’s biggest highlight, and it is arguably her biggest hit in the US. The album also featured the song “I Will Always Love You,” which has become Dolly Parton’s most covered song of all time.
All songs in the album were written by Dolly Parton apart from the songs “Lonely Comin’ Down” and “It Must Be You.”
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