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Breaking Down the Differences Between Dolly Parton's 'Jolene' and Beyoncé's “Cowboy Carter” Version

Beyoncé's new version of "Jolene" includes an intro by Parton and various lyrical changes

<p>Mason Poole/Parkwood Media/Getty, Frazer Harrison/WireImage</p> Beyoncé and Dolly Parton

Mason Poole/Parkwood Media/Getty, Frazer Harrison/WireImage

Beyoncé and Dolly Parton

Beyoncé has given Dolly Parton's "Jolene" new life.

After the release of Beyoncé's highly anticipated studio album on Friday, fans rushed to listen to her new track "Jolene" where the Grammy-winner put a spin on Parton's 1973 hit.

In 2022, Parton, 78, was interviewed on The Daily Show and asked about the various covers of her hit song — and said she hoped Beyoncé, 42, would take it on one day too.

“I don’t know if she’s even got the message, but wouldn’t that be killer? I think she’s fantastic and beautiful and I love her music.” Parton said. “I would just love to hear ‘Jolene’ done in just a big way, kind of like how Whitney [Houston] did my ‘I Will Always Love You.’ Someone that could take my little songs and make ’em like powerhouses. That would be a marvelous day in my life if she ever does ‘Jolene.”

She even called Beyoncé out by name in 2020, telling The Big Issue, "It has been recorded worldwide over 400 times in lots of different languages, by lots of different bands. The White Stripes did a wonderful job of it, and many other people."

"But nobody's ever had a really big hit record on it," Parton continued. "I've always hoped somebody might do someday, someone like Beyoncé."

Related: The Meaning Behind Beyoncé's Epic Cover of The Beatles' Classic 'Blackbird' on Cowboy Carter

Fast forward to Friday, Parton celebrated the track on social media.

She wrote: "Wow, I just heard Jolene. Beyoncé is giving that girl some trouble and she deserves it!"

On Beyoncé's version of "Jolene," she includes an introduction from Parton herself. While the track remains true Parton's melody, she put her own spin on the lyrics. Here's a breakdown of Beyoncé's "Jolene" vs. Parton's.

Don't come for her man, Jolene

In Parton's "Jolene," she opens the track with vulnerable plea — which also serves as the song's chorus.

"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."

Beyoncé on the other hand took a different approach — and she's not asking this time.

"Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene/I’m warning you, don’t come for my man/Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene/Don’t take the chance because you think you can," she sings.

You can't compete with Beyoncé, Jolene

In the following verse, Parton breaks down Jolene's beauty — which makes her hard to compete with.

"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," she sings. "Your voice is soft like summer rain/And I cannot compete with you, Jolene."

While Beyoncé can acknowledge Jolene's beauty in her version, she asserts it's not enough to come between what she has.

"You’re beautiful beyond compare/Takes more than beauty and seductive stares/To come between a family and a happy man," she sings. "Jolene, I’m a woman too/Thе games you play are nothing new/So you don’t want no hеat with me, Jolene."

Period.

Beyoncé's relationship is steadfast — so take a step back, Jolene

In addition to her beauty, Parton is aware that Jolene is on her lover's mind — but she's begging her not to take him from her.

"He talks about you in his sleep/And there's nothin' I can do to keep/From cryin' when he calls your name, Jolene," she sings. "And I can easily understand/How you could easily take my man/But you don't know what he means to me, Jolene."

Beyoncé changes the narrative in this next verse and instead outlines everything she's done to cultivate her family and relationship — so she's not going out without a fight.

"We’ve been deep in love for 20 years/I raised that man, I raised his kids/I know my man better than he knows himself (what)," she sings. "I can easily understand why you’re attracted to my man/But you don’t want this smoke, so shoot your shot with someone else (you heard me)."

Find your own man, Jolene

While Parton repeats the original chorus and again begs Jolene not to take her man —
Beyoncé doubles down and switches up her own chorus to not only say don't take my man but find your own.

"Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene/I’m warning you, woman, find you your own man/Jolene, I know I’m a queen, Jolene," she sings.

You better run in the other direction, Jolene

In the final verse before the chorus repetition, Parton makes a vulnerable case to Jolene: her happiness depends on this.

"You could have your choice of men/But I could never love again/He's the only one for me, Jolene
I had to have this talk with you," she says. "My happiness depends on you/And whatever you decide to do, Jolene."

At this point, Beyoncé makes her point as a certified "Creole banjee bitch" — and their talk is warning, not a plea.

"I’m still a Creole banjee bitch from Louisianne (don’t try me)/There’s a thousand girls in every room/That act as desperate as you do/You a bird, go on and sing your tune, Jolene (what)," she sings. "I had to have this talk with you/‘Cause I hate to have to act a fool/Your peace depends on how you move, Jolene."

Case and point

While Parton's final note on the track is a chorus repetition, Beyoncé extended it by singing about her relationship and everything they've been through — further proving that Jolene is not enough to come between them.

"Me and my man crossed those valleys/Highs and lows and everything between," she sings. "You did roll in like tumbling weeds/I sleep good happy, ’cause you can’t dig up our planted seeds."

"I know my man’s gonna stand by me breathing in my gentle breeze/I crossed those valleys/Highs and lows and everything between," she adds. "Good deeds roll in like tumbling weeds/Good and happy, ’cause you can’t dig up them planted seeds/Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene."

Beyoncé ties the entire track together with a final line: "I’ma stand by him, he gon’ stand by me, Jolene."

Listen to the two tracks below:

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