BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “Jolene”

BATTLE OF THE BANDS! (BOTB Top Photo)

I’m taking a suggestion from Kip this round, and apologize to Joey for any grief this might cause.

“Jolene” is the title track from Dolly Parton’s 1973 album. It went all the way to #1 on the RPM (Canada) and the Billboard (USA) Country charts. It also ranked at #60 on the Hot 100 and #44 on the Adult Contemporary survey in the US, and #40 on the RPM Adult Contemporary survey. Rolling Stone ranks it at #217 on its list of “The 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time,” and Ms. Parton says this is the most frequently-covered of her songs. Here is her original, if you haven’t heard it; it’s not a contestant in this week’s battle.

As I said, there have been a veritable plethora of covers to this song. One of the most interesting was one created by a YouTube user in which he took the 45 rpm version and slowed it down to 33 1/3 rpm (25% slower) that I considered using, but decided not to. Instead, I’ve tried to choose two of them that sound the least like the original and the least like each other.

CONTESTANT #1: The White Stripes The American garage band The White Stripes released a single of a live version of the song, subtitled “Live Under Blackpool Lights.” It was voted one of the greatest live covers by the readers of Rolling Stone.

CONTESTANT #2: Strawberry Switchblade Strawberry Switchblade released this electro-pop version in 1985, which was later included on their album s/t.

All right, you know what to do: give these two versions of “Jolene” a listen, and tell me which you prefer. Then, when you’ve done that, go visit my colleagues, who might or might not be conducting their own battles today, and see what you think of their songs…

Tossing It Out
StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands *
Your Daily Dose
Mike’s Ramblings
Curious as a Cathy
DC Relief – Battle of the Bands
Evil Pop Tart
ReInVintaged
Book Lover
Alex J. Cavanaugh
Shady Dell Music & Memories
Debbie D. at The Doglady’s Den
Angels Bark
Jingle Jangle Jungle
Janie Junebug Righting and Editing
Cherdo on the Flipside
Holli’s Hoots ‘n’ Hollers
J. A. Scott
Quiet Laughter
NovelBrews

* Check Stephen’s blog for further updates to this list!

I’ll announce the winner next Monday, August 8, so you have until then to choose.

The lines are now open. Best of luck to The White Stripes and Strawberry Switchblade!

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Author: John Holton

I'm a writer and blogger who writes and blogs about things that interest me.

20 thoughts on “BATTLE OF THE BANDS: “Jolene””

  1. I can’t say that I’m enthralled with either version. The White Stripes can be counted on for unusual takes on songs, but I didn’t care for the vocal on this one. The electro-pop version would probably wear thin with me after a few more listenings, but for now they take my vote for a more interesting version.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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  2. Are ya kiddin me, John? It’s best when no one sings this to me ever, or when it’s not played around me. It’s Dolly’s song and it’s a good one, but if your name is Jolene and you’re a pale-faced girl with auburn hair, it’s a lot less fun than it could be. Miley does it fine enough. Paula Cole’s version is super annoying, almost as bad as The White Stripes. Bleh.

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  3. This is one of those songs that I really feel shouldn’t have been covered by anyone. There’s something about the way Dolly rolls through the name that tells me she owns this song.

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  4. John, You weren’t kidding the two styles are different. Strawberry Switchblade electro-pop, fast pace didn’t do much for me. I felt like the meaning of the lyrics were lost. White Stripes more simplistic (compared to their rival) felt more right and better earning my vote for this battle. Thanks for the interesting twist on a Dolly classic hit.

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  5. Wow, you’re really getting some pushback on this one – but not from me! Yep, Dolly owns it but let’s face it, she’s not in the round. I’ll give my vote to the White Stripes (I don’t know what it is about Jack White that I like, but I definitely like him…even with his inherant weirdness).

    Nice!

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  6. Dolly does it best of course, but since she’s not in the running, I vote for The White Stripes. Not a fan of electro-pop in general and this singer’s voice in particular.

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  7. I love this song by Dolly. I saw her in concert many years ago and she is fantastic!
    Of your two versions, I definitely like the White Stripes version best. I couldn’t really get into the Strawberry Switchblade, although I like the name. πŸ™‚
    Please give my vote to White Stripes.

    Michele at Angels Bark

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  8. I’m such a White Stripes fan. They have my vote. I don’t care for Strawberry Switchblade. I’m not into techno, if that’s what it is. I used Jolene once for a Battle. I had The White Stripes against (I think) Miley Cyrus. I love Dolly’s original, but Jack White can do no wrong by me.

    Love,
    Janie

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  9. I give it to White Stripes because they “feel” the song better of that makes much sense. The other one was too 80’s Beverly Hills cop to me:) I have to take a look at the lyrics as this is a song covered by others in the past and it amazes me how many different renditions there are. Very cool actually.

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  10. In my VERY minority opinion, DOLLY PARTEM (if you can) is amongst the most overrated performers in Country music history. So… that gives a general idea of how I feel about this song to begin with. But that’s OK. BOTB is better when it presents… what is that word again? …Oh, yeah: “Diversity”.

    So, in just 18 years, the “STRAWBERRY ALARM CLOCK” became the “STRAWBERRY SWITCHBLADE”?

    Give my vote to THE WHITE STRIPES. In fact, I’m dead and I’m a Democrat, so give ALL 5 of my votes to THE WHITE STRIPES.

    ~ D-FensDogG
    ‘Loyal American Underground’

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