Dolly's wonderful words and music have been covered by every imaginable artist over the years in all musical genres. (There's a reason she is in the National Songwriters Hall of Fame and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame with well over 3,000 published musical compositions!) This is in no way a definitive list. To put it in perspective, from 1965 through 1967 alone, she published 120 songs, having about 90 of them recorded by other artists. Below are just the ones about which I am aware from her long career:
CD images or artists with links from this page go directly to that CD at Amazon.com if you would like to purchase the song!
Some of the strangest or most "different" Dolly covers:
Below are some recordings of Dolly songs which when you first hear about them, they might sound odd. But I have to admit, they grow on you!
"With Bells On," originally written for her Christmas album with Kenny Rodgers and recorded as a duet with him on it in 1984, this song turned up on drag queen RUPAUL's 1994 Christmas release, Ho, Ho, Ho. The album also included a cover of "Hard Candy Christmas," which Dolly had a hit on from the soundtrack of "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas." (That song came from the original Broadway score.) "With Bells On" was also covered in 1993 by SHARON, LOIS & BRAM on their release Candles, Snow and Mistletoe as well as by the contemporary Christian group THE GAITHER VOCAL BAND on their 1997 release Joy to the World. And in 2000, the SANDERS FAMILY CHRISTMAS show put the song in their musical play Sequel to Smoke On The Mountain.
MARGIE JOSEPH's second Atlantic Records single in 1972 was a wonderful R&B cover of "Touch Your Woman," recorded only a few months after Dolly's original was released (and banned by some radio stations which felt the song was too sexually suggestive). The song is available on The Atlantic Sessions: The Best of Margie Joseph (1994, Ichibon/Soul Classics).
, who were a very odd duet pairing in the '60s with her high voice and his extremely low voice singing mostly pop tunes with psychedelic overtones or light pop covers of country songs, reunited in 1972 to record Nancy and Lee Again for RCA Records in Nashville and included "Down From Dover", taking the song to No. 120 on the pop charts. Dolly had written the song (about an unmarried pregnant girl whose boyfriend ran off, leaving her to fend for herself as she stuck to the belief he would return from Dover, her parents saying she shamed the family, and the baby finally being stillborn, which she takes as a sign that the child knew the father wouldn't return and "dying was her way of telling me he wasn't coming down from Dover") around 1964 and recorded it as a solo on Fairest of Them All in 1970. The record executives thought the song was too controversial to release it as a single, but, being about the saddest and most heart-touching song she ever wrote, it soon became one of her most requested and appeared that same year on The Best of Dolly Parton. The Sinatra/Hazzlewood version is recorded as a duet, with the father trying to convince himself throughout the song that he will return to the girl he left, but he doesn't. Their version was included on Nancy's Lightning Girl: Greatest Hits 1965-1971. English group SPELL (Boyd Rice of NON and Rose McDowall of Strawberry Switchblade and Current 93) also recorded it on their 1993 release on Mute Records, Seasons in the Sun, which included several depressing songs from the late '60s pop era. And British group King Loser offered their take on it in 1996. (Dolly also re-recorded it herself in 2001 for Little Sparrow, complete with an additional verse which had been cut from the original.)
EMMA PEEL, an alternative/punk/hard rock band named after the character from "The Avengers," put a very distinctive stamp on "The Bargain Store" on their 1995 release Play Emma For Me (Sympathy for the Record Industry Records). The song, leading in with a loud rhythmic variation on Dolly's own opening rift from her 1975 version (which was also banned by some radio stations which felt the lyric "The bargain store is open come inside" was a sexual reference), features an almost chanting of the first verse by the female lead singer. It then explodes into clammering guitar chords as she screams the chorus. If you didn't recognize the lyrics themselves, you'd have no idea this was the same song.
RHINESTONE: On the soundtrack to Dolly's failed 1984 film, songs she wrote were recorded by family, friends and co-stars. "Drinkenstein" (winner of the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Song in a Film) was performed by SYLVESTER STALLONE. "Goin' Back To Heaven," performed by Dolly and Stallone in the film, is performed by sister STELLA PARTON and KIN VASSY on the soundtrack. Brother RANDY PARTON takes "Too Much Water," and brother FLOYD PARTON (who wrote "Rockin' Years" for Dolly and Ricky Van Shelton) sings "Waltz Me To Heaven."
MILLENCOLIN: This Swedish punk rock band cut their own version of "9 To 5" for their 1996 EP The Story of My Life on Burning Heart/Epitaph Records before their first major label distribution deal in the U.S. Still, a Canadian reviewer chose it as the best "unlikely hit" released that year. A rock version also appeared on the soundtrack to the 1999 film OFFICE SPACE as performed by Lisa Stone, and TOM JONES even put his stamp on the Dolly classic.
And now her most covered
By far, her most recorded song is "I Will Always Love You." First a hit for Dolly in 1974 and again in 1982 (and later again as a duet with Vince Gill in 1995), the first cover was by LINDA RONSTADT on her 1975 album Prisoner in Disguise (Asylum). WHITNEY HOUSTON, of course, took it to a record 14 weeks at No. 1 on the pop charts (five weeks at No. 1 on the adult contemporary charts) when she covered it in 1992 on the soundtrack to "The Bodyguard," selling four million copies of the single. (Dolly's 1982 and 1995 versions earned Grammy nominations, and Houston's version won the Grammy.) Following the huge success of that version, it was recorded by literally dozens of artists. Even disco queen GLORIA GAYNOR covered it in 1995 on I'll Be There. Others included LEANN RIMES (1997 Unchained Melody Curb Records), a 1995 techo version by SARAH WASHINGTON, ROGER WHITTAKER in 1994, and instrumentalists RICHARD CLAYDERMAN (1994, easy listening), EMILE PANDOLFI (country), ALEX BUGNON (1993 jazz), WALLACE RONEY (1993 jazz), and TEXAS CHAINSAW ORCHESTRA (1997, rock), to name just a few. Some of the more recent versions include Dolly's old duet partner KENNY ROGERS in 2001 and Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor as part of the "Elephant Love Medley" in the 2001 film MOULIN ROUGE.
"Jolene" is probably next. A hit for Dolly in 1974 [County #1, UK #7, Pop #60], she re-recorded it in 1975 and 1995 (both the 1974 and 1975 versions garnered Grammy nominations). This song was covered by OLIVIA NEWTON-JOHN on her 1976 Come On Over (MCA), and she re-recorded it live in 2001 for The Main Event and in 2002 for One Woman's Live Journey. As years went on, REBA MCENTIRE did it on Live (1989, MCA), MATRACA BERG on The Speed of Grace (1993, RCA), and 10,000 MANIACS AND DAVID BYRNE on the 1997 MTV "Unplugged" concert (although it does not appear on the CD release, it is on the video release). English group STRAWBERRY SWITCHBLADE recorded it and released it as a single on Korova Records in 1985. SISTERS OF MERCY recorded it on their live CD released only in Europe in 1996. Punk rocker PATTI SMITH also recorded a version, but I haven't been able to find it. Other versions include GERALDINE FIBBERS, JANIE FRICKIE, THE SINGING DIXONS and RHONDA VINCENT on her 2000 CD Back Home Again. QUEEN ADREENA (Blanco Y Negro Records, 2000) and ONE DOVE (London Records, 1993) also had rock versions in England, while Aussie native SHERRIE AUSTIN took it to No. 55 on the U.S. country charts in 2001. SIMPLY RED did a great a capella version, and THE WHITE STRIPES began earning critical acclaim for their male-performed version in 2001 which was released as a single B-side and is performed in their live shows. PAULA COLE, who cites Dolly as her biggest musical influence, also traditionally uses the song as her concert finale. Others to have recorded it over the years include LAUREN KILGORE, PRAIRIE FIRE and THE STONE COYOTES.
"Put It Off Until Tomorrow," the BILL PHILLIPS hit in 1966 (No. 6 country) with Dolly singing harmony which launched her career with her first major success, was recorded by LORETTA LYNN in 1967, by Dolly four times, by RICKY SCAGGS in 1979 (on his solo debut album, Sweet Temptation, which happened to be released on Dolly's current label, Sugar Hill Records), by THE OSBORNE BROTHERS and by THE KENDALLS (No. 11 country) on their 1979 album Heart of the Matter (Ovation Records), and it was a hit for them. It was also covered by JAN HOWARD, JEANNIE SEELY and the WILBURN BROTHERS, all in 1966.
"Coat of Many Colors was one of Dolly's signature songs from the '70s. EMMYLOU HARRIS recorded it on her first album, Pieces of The Sky (1975, Warner Brothers). Other versions included MARIA MULDAUR on a 1992 children's album and LYNN MORRIS BAND on a 1992 bluegrass album. PORTER WAGONER recorded his version of it in 1982 (One for the Road, Fire Records). The tune even got a reggae treatment by the African group THE MANDATORS on their Heartbeat Records release Power of The People. And The National Council for the Traditional Arts released a CD in 2000 called Masters Of The Steel String Guitar, which included a version featuring LINDA LAY on vocals. ELVIS PRESLEY wanted to record this song and "I Will Always Love You," but he required half of the publishing rights to all songs he recorded, meaning he would receive 50 percent of all future songwriting royalties from the song. Dolly, who owns 100 percent of her own publishing rights, wouldn't have that and told the King, "No!"
And there are many, many more, some of which include . . .
"The Company You Keep," BILL PHILLIPS' follow-up single to his most successful one ever ("Put It Off Until Tomorrow") came in as the second-most successful of his career and was also written by Dolly. It went to No. 8 in 1966. He also recorded another Dolly song, "Friends Tell Friends," again with Dolly singing unaccredited harmony, on his 1967 album Style, but it didn't chart when released as a single.
"There'll Always Be Music", originally done by Porter & Dolly in 1973, was covered by TINA TURNER on her 1974 United Artist release Tina Turns on the Country.
"Nickels And Dimes", a Dolly cut from 1978, was covered by NANA MOUSKOURI on her 1979 album Roses and Sunshine, which was re-issued in 1992.
"The Last One To Touch Me" appeared on CONWAY TWITTY'S 1971 album How Much More Can She Stand. It was also covered by PORTER WAGONER (scroll to bottom of page) and KITTY WELLS.
"Light of a Clear Blue Morning," (Dolly 1977, 1992) was covered by GLEN CAMPBELL on his 1991 CD Unconditional Love.
"My Blue Tears" (Dolly 1971, 1994) was covered by LINDA RONSTADT (with Dolly and Emmylou) on her 1982 Get Closer. Dolly's brother, RANDY PARTON, sang it on his 1981 RCA release, and RHONDA VINCENT did a bluegrass version in 1991. THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND, a British folk group, also recorded it on their 1973 release, No Ruinous Feud. GOLDIE HAWN even recorded it, an arrangement by Porter & Dolly, on her 1972 country album Goldie on Reprise Records.
"Steady As The Rain" was recorded by her sister, STELLA PARTON, on her 1979 Elektra release. It went to No. 26 country. Dolly didn't record it herself until 1999 for The Grass Is Blue.
The band PINMONKEY had for years been singing Dolly's 1976 "Falling Out Of Love With Me" in concerts for years, and when they recorded their 2002 major label debut release, they included it and got her to sing harmony.
Contemporary Christian group SELAH asked Dolly to sing a duet with their lead singer on her holiday tune "Once Upon A Christmas" (originally from 1984). She agreed, and the song appeared on their 2002 CD Rose Of Bethlehem.
In 2000, guitar virtuoso BRYAN SUTTON released Ready To Go and got label mate Dolly to sing vocals on her emotive "Smoky Mountain Memories" (originally from 1983 and re-recorded live in 1994) as he strummed along.
"I'm In No Condition," one of Dolly's Monument songs from the mid-'60s, was recorded by and HANK WILLIAMS, JR. (No. 60 country)
"Do I Ever Cross Your Mind" (Dolly 1982) was recorded in 1976 by CHET ATKINS (with Dolly, RCA) and in 1990 by RANDY TRAVIS (with Chet Atkins and Dolly, Warner Brothers). It also appeared on Dolly's Trio II project with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt.
"You" (Porter and Dolly 1973) was recorded by CRYSTAL GALE in the late '70s and was re-released on her 1980 album Favorites (United Artists).
"Life Doesn't Move Me," written by Dolly, was recorded by RAY CORBIN on Monument Records in 1969 and served as the B-side to his only chart single, "Passin' Through," which went to No. 67 that year.
"My Tennessee Mountain Home" was on folk singer MARIA MULDAUR's self-titled debut solo album in 1973 (Warner Brothers). Also, country singer ROSE MADDOX did it on Reckless Love and Bold Adventures in 1977, and the EARL SCRUGGS REVUE performed it on Rockin' Across The Country.
"Waltz Me To Heaven", originally recorded on the Rhinestone soundtrack, made it onto WAYLON JENNINGS'Greatest Hits Vol. 2 in 1985 and to No. 10 on the country singles chart. A jazz version was released in 2000 by AUDREY LAVINE on This Is No Dream.
"The Stranger," a song never recorded by Dolly but which was performed once on her 1987-88 ABC series, was recorded by her sister, STELLA PARTON, in the 1970s and again by KENNY ROGERS on 1984's What About Me (RCA).
Bluegrass group THE PINNACLE BOYS covered "My Tennessee Mountain Home" on their 1974 Rounder Records self-titled album.
JEANNIE SEELY did a couple of Dolly numbers while on Monument Records in the 1960s. She covered both "Just Because I'm A Woman" and "Little Things" on her 1968 collection Little Things and did her take of "Put It Off Until Tomorrow" on a self-titled 1966 collection.
Monument artist RAY CORBIN did Dolly's "Life Doesn't Move Me;" date uncertain.
JAN HOWARD covered "Your Ole Handy Man" on Decca Records in 1967.
Dolly also wrote a song especially for KENNY ROGERS called "Christmas in America" to serve as the title song for his 1989 Christmas album (Reprise).
"Kentucky Gambler" (Dolly 1975) was written for MERLE HAGGARD, who had a hit (No. 1 country) with it in 1974. (He admitted that during this time he fell in love with Dolly, and knowing he couldn't have her, wrote his very next hit, "Always Wanting You," in her honor.) "Gambler" was also covered by THE GIBSON BROTHERS on their 2000 release Spread Your Wings.
"A Cowboy's Way" was another Dolly original cut by THE KENDALLS, this time on their 1994 Branson Gold release Make A Dance.
"To Daddy was recorded by Dolly for her 1976 release All I Can Do, but EMMYLOU HARRIS asked if she could record it, so Dolly shelved her own version (which she later performed live on Heartsongs in 1994, and the original was released on 1995's Essential Dolly Volume 1). Emmylou had a hit (No. 3 country) with it in 1978. (Emmylou's 1978 Quarter Moon in a 10 Cent Town, which contained the song, was released on CD a few years back, and it is also available on Profiles: The Best of Emmylou Harris: Volume 1).
"Two Doors Down" was a No. 7 country hit hit for newcomer ZELDA LEHR in early 1978. Dolly's version was the B-side of her country hit "It's All Wrong, But It's All Right" but was released to pop stations as the A-side, peaking at No. 19. Supposedly, the more pop-ish version on most pressings of the Here You Come Again album and used as Dolly's single (as opposed to the more laid-back original version which appeared only on the first pressing of the record) was to help differentiate from Lehr's more country version so they wouldn't compete. LYNN ANDERSON has also performed a version, and a disco cover of it is available by JOE THOMAS.
"Most of All, Why" (Dolly 1975) was recorded by HOLLY DUNN on her 1989 Blue Rose of Texas (Warner Brothers) featuring Dolly on harmony. GENE WATSON also covered it in the mid-1970s.
"Holdin' On To You" was covered by '70s back-up singer BONNIE BRAMLETT's first solo outing, Memories in 1978 on Capricorn Records.
KATE CAMPBELL released an album of cover tunes in 2003 titled Twang On A Wire and included two Dolly numbers: "Touch Your Woman" and "Down From Dover," plus several other classics Dolly has covered herself over the years.
"Tomorrow is Forever," a Porter and Dolly hit, was recorded by country duo BETH AND APRIL STEVENS on their 1996 release, Sisters (who would go on to cover Dolly's "I'll Never Say Goodbye" in 2002 complete with Dolly singing harmony) ERIN HAY included it (plus two non-Dolly-written songs she had recorded early on in her career, "False Eyelashes" and "If Teardrops Were Pennies") on her 2002 release The Circle.
"Your Old Handy Man" was a No. 73 country single for PRISCILLA MITCHELL in 1968.
JEANNE PRUETT did "Lost Forever In Your Kiss" on her 1972 Decca release Love Me.
BARBARA HERALD recorded Dolly's "As Long As I Love You" on MGM Records (date uncertain but most likely between 1965 and 1969).
RANDY PARTON recorded "Family" on his album America, From Where I Stand.
BUD LOGAN had a minor hit (No. 49 country) in 1966 on "My Way Of Life", a song which Dolly has never recorded.
Sister STELLA PARTON also did a Dolly song called "The Flame" on her CD Picture In A Frame in the early 1990s.
"The Master's Hand," a Dolly gospel cut from her Golden Streets of Glory album, was covered by the NEW COON CREEK GIRLS and released on their 1996 greatest hits collection, Everything You Do.
"When Someone Wants To Leave", originally from 1974's Jolene, appears on two bluegrass recordings. WILD AND BLUE did it on their 1994 Pinecastle release Come On in and Make Yourself at Home, while THE ALLEN BROTHERS' and THE SELDOM SCENE both have recorded their ownversions.
Artists who just love to record Dolly:
MARGO O'DONNELL, the Irish songstress, released her 30th album, The Highway of My Life, in 1999 choosing to fill it nearly two-thirds of the way with Dolly classics, although it was only released in Ireland. Margo also made it a family affair since the CD was produced by Dolly's cousin Richie Owens with her uncle Louis Owens serving as executive producer. Also, Dolly and several of her relatives made appearances. Recorded were (with Dolly's original recording dates in parentheses): "Better Part of Life" (1973), "Bet Your Sweet Love" (never recorded by Dolly), "Silver Sandals" (1970, with Porter), "Mine" (1969), "Mama Say a Special Prayer for Me" (1969), "Wrong Direction Home" (1973), and "God's Coloring Book" (1977), plus Dolly's arrangement of "Letters to Heaven" (1957 and 1971) and J. Eggers and B. Eggers' "It Ain't Fair" (1971). "Silver Sandals" includes duet vocals by Dolly's uncle Bill Owens, "Mama Say a Special Prayer for Me" includes harmony vocals by Dolly's aunt Dorothy Jo Owens, "Shade of the Family Tree" includes duet vocals by Dolly's uncle Louis, and Dolly herself sings with Margo on "God's Coloring Book" and as a trio adding Maura O'Connell on "Wrong Direction Home," both of which were released as singles in Ireland.
SKEETER DAVIS, former wife of longtime country host Ralph Emery and who rose to fame with the crossover hit "The End of The World," had a 1967 country hit (No. 11 country) on Dolly's "Fuel to the Flame" (Dolly, also 1967, on her first solo album, Hello I'm Dolly, Monument Records). It's available on RCA's The Essential Skeeter Davis. Davis also recorded an entire album of Dolly songs. I recently obtained a copy of Skeeter Davis' 1972 lp Skeeter Sings Dolly, which was recently issued on CD in England and available by clicking on the album title. For information on what it has, click here.
MERLE HAGGARD not only recorded the hit "Kentucky Gambler," but he also put his vocals on several Dolly songs, mainly throughout the '70s, including "In the Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad)" (Dolly 1969, 1973; which also happened to be recorded by CLIFF WALDRON in 1997), "My Love Affair With Trains" in 1976, "The Seeker" (Dolly 1975, 1995) and "Lord Hold My Hand" (Dolly 1971), the latter two being religious songs. Dolly reportedly plays guitar on Haggard's recordings of "The Seeker" and "Kentucky Gambler," but I've never seen the album liner notes for those two, so I haven't confirmed it.
KITTY WELLS recorded several Dolly songs over her career, including "More Love Than Sense", "J.J. Sneed" (Dolly 1971) on Sincerely and "The Last One To Touch Me" (Dolly 1971) on They're Stepping All Over My Heart .
PORTER WAGONER: Dolly's duet partner and uncredited producer from 1968 through 1976, Porter recorded numerous Dolly songs not only as duets but solo as well. He charted solo with "The Last One To Touch Me" [#13, 1971; recorded solo by Dolly the same year), "Carolina Moonshiner" [#19, 1974; never recorded by Dolly], and "Mountain Music" [#58, 1978; never recorded by Dolly]. Solo album cuts (only ones in bold had been recorded by Dolly, including Porter duets) included: Out of Silence (Came a Song), Wino, I Lived So Fast and Hard, House of Shame, He's a Go Getter, I Couldn't Wait Forever, The Answer is Love, Roses Out of Season, Fairchild, The Alley, One More Dime, When I Drink My Wine, (the following five came from 1971's Simple as I Am, on which Dolly wrote half the songs) My Many Hurried Southern Trips, The Answer is Love, Simple as I Am, The Fire's Still Burning, Malinda, Little Bird, Sitting in the Shade, Look What Love Has Done to Me, Without You, Together You and I, I've Got Work to Do, Tomorrow is Forever, Stella Dear Sweet Stella, The Truth or a Lie, Jasper County Law, Talkin' to Myself, Daddy's Working Boots, Cassie, Old Black Kettle, Freida, Something to Reach For. In 2002, his CD Unplugged features a solo version of the Dolly-written duet "Lost Forever In Your Kiss," which the pair took to No. 9 in 1972.