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'Dolly Parton's heartstrings': All the songs from 'Jolene' to 'These Old Bones' that inspired the upcoming Netflix anthology

'Dolly Parton's Heartstrings' is an eight-episode anthology where each episode is a story inspired by eight of Parton's songs. Each episode will talk about a journey and Parton will star in all of them, but as someone who supports the characters in the story

'Dolly Parton's Heartstrings', an upcoming Netflix show explores how Parton's songs are inspired by stories, as she revealed in the trailer. In turn, each of the eight episodes to be featured in the show is inspired by eight songs of Parton.

The show will see Parton play the role of someone who supports the main characters in each of the episodes to realize their dreams and ambition, or as a narrator, who introduces the characters. The song and storyline for each episode were released by Netflix in February 2019 and are as follows:


Album: 'Jolene'

'Jolene' is one of Parton's most popular songs produced by Bob Fergusson, released in 1974. This was the title song released from her 13th album. The inspiration behind the song, as Parton had revealed after singing it in Glastonbury in 2014, was a bank clerk who flirted with her husband Carl Thomas Dean.

A report in The Independent also explores how Parton arrived at the inspiration for the name Jolene, or the fact that she had red hair. Parton had revealed in an interview for a Norwegian television channel years ago that the name Jolene was inspired by one of her fans.

It is this interview that the report quotes where Parton said that she met a beautiful red-haired, green-eyed child with fair skin. When she asked for the fan's name, 'Jolene' said the little girl.

That's when Parton said to the little girl, "Well that's just about the prettiest name I ever heard. I'm gonna write a song about you and if you ever hear it, you'll know it was about you." Miley Cyrus, Parton's goddaughter,  also covered this song six years ago for 'The Backyard Sessions'.


The Netflix show will open with the episode titled after this song starring Julianne Hough in the titular role. The key lyric which inspired the episode is "Your smile is like a breath of spring/Your voice is soft like summer rain/And I cannot compete with you, Jolene"

'These Old Bones'

Album: 'Halos & Horns'

'These Old Bones' came out in 2002 and according to a fan page, the song was influenced by the fact that Parton could mimic her mother's voice so perfectly that it would totally crack her siblings up.

However, her mother never accepted that she sounded the way her daughter mimicked her and so she would ask Parton, "Lord have mercy! Why do you sound like some old woman?" Parton particularly remembered this when she was up at the Tennessee Mountain Home, writing.

She was quoted as recalling, "After I wrote the song I got the idea of using Mama for the old woman's voice, mother and daughter. And in the "duet" at the end, it does sound exactly like me and Mama singing."

"I'm so glad that I did this because now I can write more stories about this character, on each album. It touched me when I thought that because now I can have Mama forever. As long as I live, Mama can be with us, through me. I can 'channel' her. Kind of like the 'Dollymama'."

A still from the episode inspired by 'These Old Bones' song in 'Dolly Parton's Heartstrings'. (Netflix)

The show's episode is set in the 1940s, when "a determined young lawyer returns to her Smoky Mountain hometown to prove herself professionally." The episode will star Kathleen Turner, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Kyle Bornheimer. 

'J.J. Sneed'

Album: 'Joshua'

'J.J. Sneed' came out in 1971. While not much has been written about the inspiration for this song, the album itself rose to the top of country music charts. The title song of the album 'Joshua' was the singer's first song to top the US Billboard Hot Country Singles chart. It was also nominated for a Grammy. 


The Netflix episode is set in the 1880s where a woman who lives a dull life dreams of many adventures and her dreams come true when she gets mixed up with an outlaw.

The episode will star Colin O'Donoghue, Willa Fitzgerald, David Denman, Mac Davis, and Vanessa Rubio. The key lyric that inspired the episode, "At last I have caught up with you and you're a sight to see/Could this really be my outlaw lover, JJ Sneed?"

'If I Had Wings'

Album: 'Blue Smoke'

'If I Had Wings', which came out in 2014 is a part of an album whose title is inspired by the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. The songs are inspired by one of Parton's favorite part of the world, the Smoky Mountains.

Speaking about the album and one of the songs - 'Smoky Mountain Roots' Parton had said, "It was a song that brought me out of the Smoky Mountains and it will be a song that lays me back down in the ground in the Smoky Mountains."

The part of the lyric that inspired the show's episode is "One cannot predict the future/One cannot undo the past/But we can make the present useful/Build a future that will last."

The episode explores the relationship between a father and his estranged children who are invited for his 70th birthday. How the siblings face up to their father's sin is the main theme of the episode. The episode will star Gerald McRaney, Ben Lawson, Brooke Elliott, and Michele Weaver.


'Cracker Jack'

Album: 'Jolene'

'Cracker Jack' which came out in 1974 is based on Parton's childhood puppy-dog Cracker Jack. It is one of the popular choices when it comes to pet parents. The episode titled after this song revolves around unconditional love between a little girl and her dog — in the past and the present.

Which part of the lyric inspired this song is unclear, but the theme of the episode and the song run in parallel. The episode will star Sarah Shahi, Rochelle Aytes, Jessica Collins and Tammy Lynn Michaels. 

'Sugar Hill'

Album: 'Halos and Horns'

The song released in 2002 was interestingly titled after the record company that released the album. Speaking about this song, Dolly had said, "Every time I'd look at my record company's label, I'd think, 'Sugar Hill, now that's a really pretty name'.'

"I wondered if there was a place called Sugar Hill and found out there were several. The one I courted on wasn't called Sugar Hill, but it got pretty sweet when I was upon it. I wrote the song because of the record label. My own little record label is called Blue Eye, so I thought this would be a great Blue Eye way to "brown nose."

The part of the lyric that inspired the episode is "A yellow dress drapin' off of my shoulder/Seein' myself in the looking glass/Older now and a little bit bolder/Thinkin' about our summers past."

The episode draws on the nostalgia of a couple who are on a road trip to the place where they first fell in love at. The episode will star Timothy Busfield and Patricia Wettig who previously worked on ABC relationship drama 'Thirtysomething' between 1987-91. So there are many levels of nostalgia at work here. 

'Down From Dover'

Album: 'The Fairest of Them All'

The song that came out in 1970 is about a girl who got pregnant out of wedlock and despite being shunned by her parents, she continues to wait for the father of her child.

The song was controversial for the time that it was made in and Parton in one of her interviews had even revealed that her mentor and Porter Wagoner had warned her about not being played on the radio if she continued to write "story songs" such as 'Down From Dover'. 

The episode based on the song is around a similar plot. The episode will see a pregnant teenager getting abandoned by her pious widowed father. She finds shelter at a home for unwed mothers and awaits the return of her lover, the father of the baby from the Vietnam War.

The episode stars Holly Taylor, Shane McGhie, Robert Taylor, Bellamy Young, Camryn Manheim, and Mary Lane Haskell. 

'Two Doors Down'

Album: 'Here You Come Again'

'Two Doors Down' which was also featured in the 2018 Netflix film titled 'Dumplin'. The song is about a girl who has just broken up with her boyfriend. She decides to attend a party two doors down the hall, where she meets someone and ends up bringing him home with her 'Two Doors Down'. 

The episode itself takes the crux of the song and reimagines it during a New Year's Eve wedding weekend. The couple in question find themselves facing the secrets of their family that hadn't ever been addressed before.

A mix of comedy and chaos, the episode follows the couple's journey to the aisle and sees if they make it to the 'I do' part. The episode will star Melissa Leo, Ray McKinnon, Andy Mientus, Katie Stevens and Michael Willett.