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Dolly Parton Receives Sole Songwriting Credit On Beyoncé’s Reimagined Version Of “Jolene”

Beyoncé's Rendition of Jolene Honors Dolly Parton's Original Through Full Songwriting Credit

Beyoncé’s Cowboy Carter just dropped, and her reinterpretation of Dolly Parton’s classic, “Jolene,” drew mixed reactions. That is, Queen Bey’s “Jolene” was a savage while Parton’s was desperate. Some were impressed, while some were confused about what to feel. But despite making a significant change in the song, she gave the full songwriting credit to the original songwriter, Dolly Parton.

Honoring Dolly Parton

Weeks before the release of Beyoncé’s highly-anticipated second installment of her three-act project. Dolly Parton shared with Knoxville News Sentinel that she “thinks” the singer might’ve covered her classic 1973 hit “Jolene.” The news spread like wildfire, with everyone hoping it would be true. 

And it did happen. But what surprised people even more was that in Beyoncé’s remake of “Jolene,” Beyoncé is credited as the performer and producer of the track, while Parton was the sole songwriter. Considering how the song was basically rewritten from top to bottom, people were expecting to see Queen Bey’s name alongside Parton’s.

This was definitely a respectful gesture that spoke volumes, as the Queen of Country has been known to be protective over her music. As the LA Times put it, “When Dolly Parton writes a song, it’s her song — no exceptions. Not even for the King of Rock ’n’ Roll.” 

Yes, she refused Elvis Presley to record a cover of “I Will Always Love You.” But she did clarify that she wanted to, but she just couldn’t do it because his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, demanded that they share royalties. The song was the most important copyright in her publishing company, and so she made the hard decision to turn it down. If this is not a Queen moment, we don’t know what is. 

Reactions on “Jolene”

There are two things that can’t be argued with here. First is the fact that Beyoncé covering “Jolene” also meant a lot more ears on the original. As of April 1, Parton’s recorded an 11,610 percent uptick in Spotify streams! 

Some would probably disagree the pop singer’s remake gave the original justice like the others, considering the singer changed a big part of the lyrics (which in turn changed the vibe), but that doesn’t mean it’s not good. As Rebecca Shaw of The Guardian noted, it doesn’t dilute the original. Reimagining a classic is adding to it and breathing new life into it. If anything, the complaints are mainly about people’s nostalgia and the thought that a piece they love is somehow sacrosanct and that any new take will tarnish its legacy. 

Second, Parton loved Beyoncé’s rendition. 

The Queen of Country herself gave her stamp of approval. In her statement, she said, “Wow, I just heard Jolene,” she shared in a statement. “Beyoncé is giving that girl some trouble and she deserves it! Love, Dolly P.” If any opinion matters, it’s hers. In fact, hers is the only opinion that matters. 

Discussions on music communities on Reddit thought the move was a no-brainer. Parton owned the song, and she was entitled to the full credit. Additionally, one user noted in a thread that the change in lyrics was irrelevant in the sense that “Jolene” was “immensely well written, known, and recognizable.” 

And if we’d give our take, it’s simply a way to honor the artist who gifted everyone with a classic. Beyoncé is a big fan of Parton, and Parton was the same. They respected each other as queens, and credit was given where credit was due. No one could ever own “Jolene” except for the one who created her.

Aside from that, this gesture showed what it was like to respect someone’s work. Stories of uncredited songwriters aren’t just fictional narratives. Back in 2021, Justin Tranter, Emily Warren, and Ross Golan released an open letter about inequality in the music industry and demanded the credit they deserved. They also called our artists to stop taking credit for hits they didn’t write.

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