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What Makes “Joshua” Significant in Dolly Parton’s Career?


Just who is Joshua in Dolly Parton’s life? Did he ever exist in this world? Let’s find out what Parton had written about him through her song of the same title.

Dolly Parton, Joshua, Applejack
Photo credit: Dolly Parton Official Facebook Page

The Reclusive Man from Dolly Parton’s Youth Named “Joshua”

Dolly Parton was among the several artists who didn’t have a career breakthrough early on. While she started writing songs at a very early age and had a successful duet career with the late country singer Porter Wagoner, it took her some years before she had her big break as a solo performer. Thanks to “Joshua,” the title of her self-penned tune that earned the singer her first No. 1 hit on the country chart.

“Joshua” was a follow-up single to her first Top 10 solo release with RCA, “Mule Skinner Blues.” It was released in November 1970, appearing as the lead single and title track to his album of the same name. The song debuted at No. 12 on the country chart. However, it did not stop there. It climbed its way up the chart until it reached No. 1 spot on February 6, 1971.

The song is about a reclusive man from Parton’s youth. It was said that the male character in the song was a special friend to the singer as a child. The song narrates a love story between the two characters. In real life though, no such romance exists between them.

Later on, Parton recorded another song of a similar theme. Entitled “Applejack,” the song was described as something even more true to life than Parton’s first No. 1 hit. However, it was never released as a single. Yet, it has a significant and specific purpose in the singer’s life and career. On the studio recording of “Applejack,” Parton featured appearances by country legends like Roy Acuff, Chet Akins, and Grandpa Jones, an indication of her loyalty to her country roots.

Here is a live performance of the song by Parton.

Dolly Parton’s Humble Beginnings

The now-73-year-old singer is one of the many country music legends with a rich career history. Indeed, she has come a long way since she started her musical journey. She’s one of the most decorated music artists of today.

At an early age, Parton has already thought of having a career in country music. Shortly after she graduated from high school in 1964, she moved to Nashville to pursue her singing dream. She went on to become one of the most powerful and successful country music artists we know today.

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