Dolly Parton’s All-Time Greatest Hits: The Definitive Ranking

Dolly Parton’s illustrious career in country music has spanned over five decades, making her a living legend. With thousands of songs under her belt, it’s a difficult task to create a definitive list of the best Dolly Parton songs of all time. Fear not, for we have taken on the challenge and compiled a list of Dolly’s all-time greatest hits, showcasing her incredible songwriting and singing abilities!

From her early days with Porter Wagoner to her incredible duets with Kenny Rogers, and from the heart-wrenching “Coat of Many Colors” to the sultry “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” prepare to be taken on a journey through the hot country Dolly songs that have made her the icon she is today.

1. “Jolene”

Perhaps no other Dolly Parton song has inspired as much feeling as “Jolene.” This haunting tale of a woman-to-woman conversation captures the pain of jealousy, as the narrator pleads with the beautiful Jolene not to take her man. With its unforgettable melody and raw emotion, “Jolene” has become a timeless classic that has been covered by numerous artists and remains a fan favorite to this day.

2. “I Will Always Love You”

Widely considered one of the best love songs ever written, “I Will Always Love You” showcases Dolly’s unparalleled ability to capture the pain of loving someone you can’t be with. Originally written as a farewell to her mentor and frequent singing partner, Porter Wagoner, the song has taken on a life of its own. Not only did Dolly score a No. 1 hit with the song twice, but she also entered the top 20 once again in 1995 as a duet with Vince Gill. The song’s popularity skyrocketed even further when Whitney Houston recorded her own breathtaking version for “The Bodyguard” soundtrack in 1992, making it a chart-topping hit for 14 weeks.

3. “Coat of Many Colors”

This heart-wrenching autobiographical song tells the story of Dolly’s humble upbringing as a poor girl in Tennessee. With its soul-baring lyrics and poignant message, “Coat of Many Colors” is a testament to the power of love, family, and resilience in the face of adversity. The song’s enduring popularity has even inspired a pair of TV movies, further solidifying its place in Dolly Parton’s legendary catalog.

4. “Here You Come Again”

“Here You Come Again,” penned by the talented duo of Barry Man and Cynthia Weil, marked a significant milestone in Dolly’s career as her first major crossover hit. The pop-infused tune showcased her ability to appeal to a broader audience and won her a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal in 1979. This song would pave the way for further success on the pop charts and cement Dolly’s status as a versatile and accomplished artist.

5. “9 to 5”

When Hollywood came calling in the late ’70s and early ’80s, Dolly answered with a string of memorable movie appearances and accompanying hit songs. For the classic 1980 comedy “9 to 5,” she penned the ultimate ode to overworked and underpaid women everywhere. The catchy, upbeat tune became an anthem for the growing movement demanding equal pay for equal work and remains a beloved hit to this day.

6. “Islands in the Stream”

This iconic duet with Kenny Rogers, written by the Bee Gees, showcases the incredible chemistry between the two country music legends. The song became a worldwide sensation, reaching the top of the U.S. Billboard Country charts in 1983 and solidifying its place in the pantheon of unforgettable country duets.

7. “Why’d You Come in Here Lookin’ Like That”

From her 1989 album “White Limozeen,” “Why’d You Come in Here Lookin’ Like That” is an irresistible, toe-tapping tune that follows a woman who just can’t help pining for a no-good cowboy in “painted on jeans.” Produced by Ricky Skaggs, the song showcases Dolly at her flirtatious and playful best, making it an enduring fan favorite.

8. “The Grass is Blue”

Featured on Dolly’s 1999 bluegrass album of the same name, “The Grass is Blue” is yet another testament to her unmatched ability to write about heartbreak and desperation. The critically acclaimed album not only helped to boost Dolly’s career but also, along with the “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” soundtrack, played a crucial role in bringing bluegrass to mainstream audiences.

9. “Joshua”

This hard-driving 1971 hit about a Tennessee woman and a burly mountain man became Dolly’s first No. 1 single on the country charts. Once again mining her Appalachian roots for inspiration, “Joshua” serves as a reminder of Dolly’s incredible talent for storytelling and her deep connection to her humble beginnings.

10. “To Daddy”

This introspective 1977 country song, written from the perspective of a daughter reflecting on her parents’ marriage, became a No. 3 hit for Emmylou Harris. “To Daddy” is just one example of Dolly’s talent for writing hit songs for other artists, a list that includes Nancy Sinatra’s “Down From Dover” and Merle Haggard’s No. 1 hit “Kentucky Gambler” in 1975.

Honorable Mentions:

  • “Love is Like a Butterfly”
  • “Two Doors Down”
  • “But You Know I Love You”
  • “Old Flames Can’t Hold a Candle to You”

Dolly Parton’s incredible body of work has left an indelible mark on country music and the broader musical landscape. Her timeless songs, filled with raw emotion, captivating storytelling, and unforgettable melodies, have touched the hearts of millions around the world. As we celebrate her legendary career, it’s worth taking the time to revisit these all-time greatest hits and appreciate the immense talent and passion that have made Dolly Parton a true icon.