Jolene by Dolly Parton Lyrics Meaning – A Rhapsody of Vulnerability and Obsession

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Dolly Parton's Jolene at
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning


Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
I’m beggin’ of you, please don’t take my man
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
Please don’t take him just because you can

Your beauty is beyond compare
With flaming locks of auburn hair
With ivory skin and eyes of emerald green
Your smile is like a breath of spring
Your voice is soft like summer rain
And I cannot compete with you, Jolene (Jolene)

He talks about you in his sleep
And there’s nothing I can do to keep from crying
When he calls your name, Jolene (Jolene)
And I can easily understand
How you could easily take my man
But you don’t know what he means to me, Jolene (don’t take him)

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
I’m begging of you, please don’t take my man
Oh, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
Oh, please don’t take him just because you can (don’t take him)

You could have your choice of men
But I could never love again
He’s the only one for me, Jolene (he’s the only one)
I had to have this talk with you
My happiness depends on you
Whatever you decide to do, Jolene

Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
I’m begging of you, please don’t take my man
(Don’t take him, don’t take him, don’t take him)
Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene
Please don’t take him just because you can (just because you can)
Jolene, Jolene (please don’t take him, please don’t take him, Jolene)


He’s the only one for me
Jolene, Jolene
Please don’t take him just because you can

Full Lyrics

In the pantheon of country music, ‘Jolene’ stands as an anthem of anguish, a morsel of melodic desperation that has resonated with millions since its release in 1973. Its raw emotional power is almost palpable as Dolly Parton croons the haunting refrain, reaching out into the depths of vulnerability and obsession.

What makes ‘Jolene’ pierce through the ages, garnering and growing acclaim in each decade since its release? It’s not just the melody or Parton’s crystalline voice, but also the profound narrative captured within the lyrics. It’s a poignant tale that many can empathize with – that of pleading for love amid the threat of another’s allure.

A Heartfelt Plea: Understanding ‘Jolene’s’ Emotional Core

At ‘Jolene’s’ heart lies the stark naked fear of loss, not through malice, but through inadequacy. The titular character is addressed in a series of supplications, entreaties that bespeak a deeper insecurity. It’s not just about a woman pleading with another over a man; it’s an exploration into the human condition, into the fear that we are never enough.

Parton’s character lays bare a soul torn by self-doubt and yearning, striking chords with anyone who has ever felt love slipping through their fingers. It’s these universal themes of love, jealousy, and insecurity that elevate ‘Jolene’ from a simple song to a powerful emotional experience.

The Abject Serenity of Surrender: ‘Jolene’s’ Quiet Desperation

There is a surprising serenity in the way the protagonist of the song accepts her perceived inferiority to Jolene. She surrenders to the idea that Jolene’s beauty and charm are unstoppable forces. It’s a humbling admittance of someone acknowledging that they’re contending with a power seemingly beyond their control.

Yet, it’s in this very surrender that the song finds a strange empowerment. In the act of begging, there’s a formidable strength, a sense of agency in asking for what one deeply desires. Parton’s performance conveys not only the ache but also the silent power within acquiescence.

Unveiling ‘Jolene’s’ Hidden Meaning: A Thrilling Symbolism

Peeling back the layers, some listeners find metaphors strewn throughout the lyrics. ‘Jolene’ could well be a symbol for life’s temptations, for challenges that lure us away from what we hold dear. The song’s namesake represents those irresistible forces that threaten our inner peace and personal relationships.

The tune may also point to the nature of desire itself, to our longing for things just out of reach and the complex emotions that come from wanting what might not be meant for us. ‘Jolene’ invites the listener to examine their own Jolenes, the external manifestations of their internal fears.

Compelling Lyrics: Memorable Lines That Echo Through Time

Parton’s lyrical craftsmanship shines throughout the track. ‘Your beauty is beyond compare, with flaming locks of auburn hair, with ivory skin and eyes of emerald green’ is more than vivid imagery — it’s an evocative portrait of Jolene that both charms and intimidates. The words grip the listener, escorting them into the narrator’s world.

Yet, it’s the simple repetition of Jolene’s name that imprints the song in memory. Each utterance is a mix of admiration and plea, establishing a form of intimacy with the antagonist. The name itself becomes a symbol, a refrain that underscores the song’s message and the weight of the narrator’s emotions.

‘Because You Can’: The Philosophy of Choice in ‘Jolene’

But what could be more stirring than the line ‘Please don’t take him just because you can’? It’s a powerful comment on the nature of free will and the ethical boundaries of the heart. It questions not Jolene’s ability to captivate, but rather her choice to wield that power, suggesting a moral compass that governs even matters of the heart.

In the end, ‘Jolene’ interrogates the intersection of love, power, and choice. Parton invites us to scrutinize not just our worth to others, but what we do with our influence over those who love us. It’s a mesmerizing ballad, urging a discourse on desire, the dynamics of power in relationships, and ultimately, the responsibility that comes with it.

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