Hi there. So, this week I want to highlight the song Jolene, by Dolly Parton. Only, the version I am sharing is a slowed down one that for some reason is called “Slow Ass Jolene” on Youtube. Classy, I know.
For me Country music has no appeal. I have heard very little that I have like and it is, without a doubt, the only style of music I truly have a bias against. I wish this were not the case but it is. I mention this because prior to hearing this version of the song, which when you listen seems to be sung by a man with a very unusual voice, I cannot say I ever gave Dolly Parton much thought as a songwriter/singer. After hearing this I cannot help but feel I have been an idiot.
There are so many things that are impressive about this song. First, to have your vocals slowed and to have the song still work has to be a freakish anomaly. There is an eerie, otherworldly quality to her vocals when played at this speed and I find it does not diminish the more I listen to the song. The slower tempo, as well, strikes me as a marked improvement over the original. When I compare the two versions the original seems almost frantic which is in opposition to the story being told. At this speed the song feels conversational, almost as though we are listening in on the exchange between the two women (or strange man and woman with this version) and it is haunting.
All of this is just my humble opinion but I think anyone who listens to the song (whichever version) will agree that the songwriting is quite excellent. Direct, open and heartbreaking – this is a very moving song and I am grateful that due to a television show using this version of the song (The Blacklist) I am able to get past my bias and experience it. I hope you get to as well.