The 1st Song Dolly Parton Remembers Hearing — ‘It Was Like a Drug to Me’

Dolly Parton is a country star who grew up in Tennessee. In one memoir, the “Jolene” singer detailed the first song she remembers hearing — which actually had her name in the lyrics. Here’s what we learned from Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business.

Dolly Parton’s childhood with Aunt Marth

Singer-songwriter Dolly Parton attends the 51st Academy of Country Music Awards
Singer-songwriter Dolly Parton attends the 51st Academy of Country Music Awards | David Becker/Getty Images

Parton is the musician behind “I Will Always Love You,” “9 to 5,” “Here You Come Again,” and “Coat of Many Colors.” Before she was an award-winning country artist, Parton was born and raised in Tennessee. 

“My daddy was a sharecropper,” Parton wrote in Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business. “That means we didn’t own the land we lived on. We farmed it for somebody else in return for a share of the crop. In a hard land that is stingy about giving up much of a crop, that share doesn’t come to a whole lot.”

The person who owned the land was a woman named Martha Williams, who Parton called Aunt Marth. The country artist shared that some of her earliest memories were with this person, including one of her first musical moments. 

Dolly Parton said the first song she remembers hearing was ‘like a drug’ to her

The Queen of Country enjoyed a life full of music. In the 1994 memoir, Parton detailed her childhood experiences, including her experiences inside Aunt Marth’s house. There was gingerbread to eat, and when there wasn’t a sweet treat, Parton’s relative would sing a special song. 

“Tiptoe tiptoe, little Dolly Parton,” the lyrics state. “Tiptoe tiptoe, ain’t she fine / Tiptoe tiptoe, little Dolly Parton / She’s got a red dress just like mine / She’s got a red dress, she’s got nine / She’s got a red dress just like mine.”

“I can remember being amazed that Aunt Marth knew a song that had my name in it,” Parton wrote. “It never occurred to me you could put anybody’s name in the song. And, after all, I was special. Why wouldn’t there be a song about a special little girl?” 

“That was the first song I was ever aware of, and it was like a drug to me,” she continued. “I used to clap my little hands and squeal, ‘Sing it again, Aunt Marth, sing it again!’ And she usually would.”

Dolly Parton continues to release original music, including ‘A Holly Dolly Christmas Ultimate Deluxe’

This year marks the release of the NBC holiday special Dolly Parton’s Mountain Magic Christmas. This artist continues to release new projects, including a deluxe version of A Holly Dolly Christmas.

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” Parton tweeted. “A Holly Dolly Christmas Ultimate Deluxe is coming October 14th, and to celebrate, I’m sharing my previously unreleased track ‘A Smoky Mountain Christmas’ today!”

In another 2022 release, Parton announced Diamonds & Rhinestones: The Greatest Hits Collection, featuring 23 of her best-known songs.

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