It’s been 46 years since Dolly Parton released “Jolene,” but she’s giving fans a chance to make their mark on the memorable single. Parton is asking the public to share their best versions of her hit song using the hashtag #JoleneChallenge. The announcement was made with a little help from Julianne Hough, who plays Jolene in Parton’s Netflix series Heartstrings.
Heartstrings is an eight-episode anthology of stories based on Parton’s music. “Jolene” is about a wife who is terrified her husband will leave her for another woman. In the 1973 classic, Parton begs Jolene not to take her man. The country legend was inspired to write the song after a redheaded bank teller was flirting with her new husband.
“She got this terrible crush on my husband,” Parton recalled to NPR. “And he just loved going to the bank because she paid him so much attention. It was kinda like a running joke between us — when I was saying, ‘Hell, you’re spending a lot of time at the bank. I don’t believe we’ve got that kind of money.’ So it’s really an innocent song all around, but sounds like a dreadful one.”
As for how Parton landed on the name Jolene, it was thanks to a different redhead.
“One night, I was on stage, and there was this beautiful little girl — she was probably 8 years old at the time,” she explained. “And she had this beautiful red hair, this beautiful skin, these beautiful green eyes, and she was looking up at me, holding, you know, for an autograph. I said, ‘Well, you’re the prettiest little thing I ever saw. So what is your name?’ And she said, ‘Jolene.’ And I said, ‘Jolene. Jolene. Jolene. Jolene.’ I said, ‘That is pretty. That sounds like a song. I’m going to write a song about that.'”
Heartstrings premieres on the streaming platform Friday.
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