Who knew Dolly Parton could ever feel threatened by another woman? She wrote this plea to a cheating man’s mistress after watching her real-life husband flirt with a bank teller (harmlessly, it seems). “Your smile is like a breath of spring,” she sings. “Your voice is soft like summer rain/ And I cannot compete with you, Jolene.” Released as a single in 1973, “Jolene” shot to the top of the country charts and also became a modest crossover hit. Unlike most songs about no-good, cheatin’ spouses, this one is neither angry nor resentful. There’s no accusation, no vow to enact revenge. It’s about two women: the mistress who has the trump card and the fragile wife who is begging her not to play it.
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