Dolly Parton has been hitting the talk show circuit to promote her phenomenal new Netflix series Heartstrings, which takes eight of Parton’s most iconic tracks and breaks them down into their own individual (and star studded) stories.
On a recent visit to Late Night With Seth Meyers, Parton decided to sing a few bars of one of her signature hits, “Jolene”, since Seth’s three-year-old is obsessed with the song, and did an impromptu performance of the chorus for the live audience. “This is for my gay crowd,” Parton said before singing, “Drag Queen, Drag Queen, Drag Queen, Drag Queen. Please don’t take him just because you can.”
As Heartstrings is now telling stories with her songs, Parton revealed the full story behind “Jolene”. “When my husband and I first got married, there was this beautiful girl who worked at the bank, she had everything I didn’t, like long legs, she was tall and beautiful, and he would just spend a lot of time down there,” Parton said, explaining the song’s origin story. “And I thought, ‘I know we ain’t got that kind of money!’” Parton went on to say that he claimed his frequent bank visits were to secure a loan for his asphalt paving company, but she insisted he start talking to male bank tellers, or else, as she put it, “It’s gonna be your ass and your fault”! When Myers asked what she would do today if she ran into a Jolene-type with her husband, her answer was simple: “Oh I’d just hide his Viagra,” she simply stated.
Of course, this is not the first time drag queens and “Jolene” have been tightly associated (or the last). Last year when Netflix premiered the film Dumplin, (about a teenage girl who has had the music of Dolly Parton instilled in her at an early age) a titany of queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race took a crack at “Jolene”, Seeing Ginger Minj, Bebe Zahara Benet, Katya, Manila Luzon, Alaska, and Ben Delacreme turn their best Dolly Parton runway lewks definitely shows that Dolly’s famed adage of “find out who you are and do it on purpose” is as applicable now, just as much as it ever was.