Can Dolly Parton Yodel?

Dolly Parton is undoubtedly talented vocally. But can she yodel? Yodeling actually has an important place in her Grammy history. The singer also answered what kind of yodeling she can do.

Can Dolly Parton yodel?

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Parton sat down with Wired and answered some of the Web’s Most Searched Questions about her. Many people wonder if she can yodel, and she answered them.

“I guess I can,” she answered, yodeling. “Actually, I kinda have a form of a country yodel that I do incorporate in different songs. Like a song I had out years ago called ‘Mule Skinner Blues.’ I kinda yodel at the end of some of the songs.” 

She then added, “I’m not a true yodeler like that kind of sound where they really do that from the Swiss Alps. Not that kind of yodeler, but I can yodel.” 

According to The Culture Trip, Alpine shepherds would yodel to communicate with each other over large distances in the mountains. Yodeling is switching between a low-pitch and high-pitch falsetto. 

Dolly Parton received her first solo Grammy nomination for ‘Mule Skinner Blues’ 

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“Mule Skinner Blues” was written by Jimmie Rodgers and George Vaughn. Rodgers then recorded it in 1930 as “Blue Yodel #8.” The song follows a mule skinner through his workday. Many singers have covered it since then, according to Wide Open Country.

Parton performed her cover on the Porter Wagoner Show. She then recorded it as part of The Best of Dolly Parton 1970 album. The song actually led to her first solo Grammy nomination in 1971 for Best Country Vocal Female Performance.

Parton did make the song her own by switching up some of the lyrics. She sings, “Well, I’m a lady mule skinner/From down old Tennessee way.” The original song doesn’t refer to Parton’s home state.

Dolly Parton singing into a microphone. The shot is black and white. The year is 1981.
Dolly Parton, 1981 | George Rose/Getty Images

She also did a duet of the song with Bill Monroe for a special called “Fifty Years of Country Music.” The legend performed on stage in her favorite color, white. Monroe took the lead singing the original lyrics at first. Parton then jumped in, adding her own lyrics. She then proceeded to yodel.

When Monroe takes his turn to sing again, Parton has fun with him. After he calls for the water boy, she asks, “Water boy? Do I look like a boy to you?” When he sings, you don’t like your job she replies, “Oh, I like my job. I just can’t sing and yodel like you.” 

There are definitely fans who are familiar with Parton’s yodeling skills. One of them actually made a funny petition titled “Change All Train Whistles To Dolly Parton’s Yodel in ‘Mule Skinner Blues’” on Change.org. It has only five signatures so far.