I love this song. I love it so much. As do millions of other people all over the world since it was first written and released by Dolly Parton in 1973. She says she wrote it as something all women could relate to- please don’t take my man. I always felt it in that way too, the lyrics evoking all the times I’d felt jealous or threatened by a fellow female. I would sing along, becoming more and more incensed by the nerve of that metaphorical Jolene. How dare she sashay into our lives with her luscious locks and emerald green eyes, distracting my man with her ‘come hither’ gaze and a “voice soft as summer rain”? I’d ride the rollercoaster of emotions from fear to anger to desperation, pleading with this woman to relinquish the power she held over my future happiness, and walk away from this game she was playing with my man. In other words, please, fuck off Jolene.
I started listening to this song again at Christmas, after Reina gifted me a gorgeous, glossy coffee table style hard cover book of Dolly Parton’s “My Life In Lyrics”. I was hooked, all over again, but this time, as I sang along, full of heart, I realised there had been a change. I wasn’t feeling threatened or jealous. I wasn’t feeling insecure or angst ridden. I wasn’t relating in that way at all any more. I wasn’t singing to some other woman. I realised that this time, I was singing about me, when, many, many, many years ago, it had been me being Jolene.
I was young, it was complicated, I thought my actions were justified, convincing myself her beef should be with her partner, not with me, because he was the one with the commitment to her, not me.
Slippery slope Mia, slippery bloody slope. I am quite shocked that I am realising only now, decades later, that while I certainly had not made a commitment to her, as a fellow human being, I still had obligations. I still had a responsibility to be kind. To be respectful. To be compassionate and empathetic. To be decent. Not to be a Jolene.
I’m dedicating this to her. She deserved much better, and so, ultimately, did I.
5 thoughts on “Being Jolene”
Mia; I absolutely LOVE your voice. I love how strong it sounds! Your videos are making me work on my own voice and strength each time you post!
I also realised that I have a ‘Jolene’ story from the other side too. I never actually realised I was “Jolene” in this situation because they were not ‘together’ as such – it was more just a promise of “when the time is right” – but unfortunately my timing meant that promise breaking. Both parties still mention the “what if’s” but also feel that too much time has passed. I too find my actions “iffy” because, she was supposedly my close friend – why did I do that? It came from a place of ignorance, jealousy and not knowing enough to hold myself accountable for my own actions.
Thank you for your beautiful comments Emily, it can be very strange and a little scary posting into thin air and comments make it so much more tangible and enjoyable for me ❤ I was so sure of myself back then Em, I was so assured of my own morality and ethical standards… Age and life experience really does change us, and I’m so glad it does! I’m fairly certain this woman will never read or hear this, but it’s important to me to put it out there anyway. Sending you a big hug. Keep singing, keep reflecting, keep writing xxx
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Always! I enjoy reading your blogs and watching your videos. Your blog today about fasting is seriously making me look at my own journey and wanting to incorporate better habits into my day vs just “eating between this time and this time”. But – that’s a comment for that blog haha!
The girl and I amazingly ARE still friends. In some incredible way, she’s managed to forgive me – we talk almost daily. Him and I never worked out beyond those teenage makeout experiences that are “so important and meaningful” to you when they first happened – but he is still my best friend. But those two do not talk beyond a text every now and again. When they’re in the same room, fireworks – but she won’t let me bring that up at all. It is literally the one thing we never talk about – which is obviously fine. That’s her step to cross over when she’s ready to.
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Mia your voice is insane singing Jolene! Stunning version. This was my number 1 favourite song as a child. My sisters and I would pretend we were on Young Talent Time and sing Jolene into hairbrushes in our lounge room, such good memories x
Leah thank you so much, it’s really really lovely to hear feedback. It is pretty strange performing into a camera and sharing to thin air and radio silence 😁 But comments like yours give me the reassurance I crave that its ok to continue doing this. I’m so glad you enjoyed. Dolly is one incredible talent.