The Making of “Coat of Many Colors”

In 1969, Dolly Parton was traveling with fellow country singer Porter Wagoner. They were on tour together that year. While traveling on the bus, Parton composed one of her favorite songs and also a country music hit, “Coat of Many Colors.” She needed to write the words down yet there was no clean sheet of paper present. Therefore, she wrote the words to “Coat of Many Colors” at the back of a dry cleaning receipt. The dry cleaning receipt is currently framed and hanging at the Chasing Rainbows Museum in Dollywood.

The Song’s Content

“Coat of Many Colors” was one of Parton’s single from her same-titled album. Her song tells the story of a mother who stitched together rags of many colors to make a coat for her daughter. While the mother is making the coat, she tells her daughter about the story of Joseph’s (from the Bible) coat made of many colors. The daughter was excited to go to school and show her classmates, but instead, they make fun of her coat. She wonders why, because she felt rich wearing the coat her mother made for her.

“But they didn’t understand it

And I tried to make them see

That one is only poor

Only if they choose to be

Now I know we had no money

But I was rich as I could be

In my coat of many colors

My mama made for me.”

This song by Parton has been an inspiring song to many. It speaks about love, family, appreciation in life, and not to judge a person by what they have. In addition, it is a special song because this song was based on Parton’s life.

Covers

When “Coat of Many Colors” was released it became a favorite by many, making it entered the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and placed at No. 4. Since it became popular many artists covered Parton’s song, these include Shania Twain, Emmylou Harris, and Eva Cassidy.

Emmylou Harris’ Version

Let us take a look on Emmylou Harris’ version of “Coats of Many Colors.” Harris recorded the version of this song and made part of her album Pieces of Sky in 1975. Harris’ version was not able to enter the chart but her album placed at No. 7 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. Moreover, Harris did a good work covering songs from different artists, including that of Dolly Parton, in her second album.

Listen to Emmylou Harris as she sings “Coats of Many Colors.”

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