Beyoncé Reimagines Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’ to Fit Her Story: Listen


She ain’t sorry!

On Friday, Beyoncé released her album Cowboy Carter, which features a modern reimagining of Dolly Parton‘s classic “Jolene” and an interlude from Miss Parton herself. Queen Bey’s new version serves as a continuation to Lemonade‘s “Sorry,” just with a renaming for the infamous “Becky with the good hair.”

Track nine hears an introduction to the song by Dolly. “You know that hussy with the good hair you sing about?” she asks. “Reminded me of someone I knew back when, except she has flaming locks of auburn hair. Bless her heart! Just a hair of a different color, but it hurts just the same.”

After the interlude, Beyoncé’s “Jolene” begins with the singer following the same tune as the original 1973 track with a few echoey elements. Then, Queen Bey makes slight tweaks to the lyrics, modernizing them for 2024 and making them about her own story: “I’m warning you: don’t come for my man,” she sings at the start, taking a sterner approach to the intruding mistress.

Parton shared her excitement about the new version on social media Friday. “Wow, I just heard Joelen. Beyoncé is giving that girl some trouble and she deserves it!” Parton wrote, signing the note “Dolly P.”

“You’re beautiful beyond compare, takes more than beauty to take up the stares to come between a family and a happy man,” Beyoncé sings on the track. “Jolene, I’m a woman too/The games you play are nothing new/ So you don’t want no heat with me, Jolene.”

“Been deep in love for 20 years/I raised that man, I raised his kids/ I know my man better than he knows himself,” she continues. “I can easily understand why you’re attracted to my man, but you don’t want the smoke/So shoot your shot with someone else/You heard me!”

The song ends with Beyoncé being joined by an angelic choir as they repeat the song’s title and the hussy’s new nickname. In the lyrics, Beyoncé takes a stronger, threatening approach compared to Parton’s pleading words in the original.

Given Parton’s introduction, the lyrics seem to continue the storyline of “Sorry” from 2016’s Lemonade, in which Beyoncé sings to a woman that’s been sleeping with her husband. (Although she’s never confirmed the lyrics are about Jay-Z, it’s been long-speculated that the lyrics are about a supposed affair.) “He only want me when I’m not on there/He better call Becky with the good hair,” she sings on “Sorry.”

Queen Dolly — who also cameos on track “Tyrant” — has been incredibly supportive of Beyoncé’s new version of the song. After Bey revealed the track list for Cowboy Carter, Parton wrote on Instagram, “Play the original while you wait for @beyonce’s ‘Jolene.’”

Parton revealed that Queen Bey had recorded a rendition of her iconic song earlier this month. “I think she’s recorded ‘Jolene’ and I think it’s probably gonna be on her country album, which I’m very excited about that,” Parton said. “I love her! She’s a beautiful girl and a great singer.”

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During an interview with Big Issue in 2020, Parton said she’d “always hoped” Bey would become one of the hundreds of artists to record a cover of the track. “Nobody’s ever had a really big hit record on it,” Parton said of the “Jolene” covers. “I’ve always hoped somebody might do someday, someone like Beyoncé.”

This story was on March 29 at 3:30 p.m. ET updated to include a post from Dolly Parton about the song.



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