The Song Dolly Parton Can’t Sing Without Crying

Since Dolly Parton often pulls from a personal place when songwriting, many of her songs make her emotional. But there’s one song that always, without fail, causes the Queen of Country to well up. That song is “The Last One to Touch Me.”

Dolly Parton performing on stage. She is sitting and singing at a piano in an all-white outfit.
Dolly Parton | Rick Diamond/Getty Images

‘The Last One to Touch Me’

Parton released “The Last One to Touch Me” in 1971 on the Joshua album. It’s a song about true, pure, undying love.

“As far as I’m concerned, ‘The Last One to Touch Me’ speaks to everyone who’s truly in love, who is really there ”til death do us part,'” wrote Parton in her 2020 book, Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics.

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One of Parton’s “favorite songs ever” is George Jones’ 1980 song, “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” “The Last One to Touch Me” is her version of Jones’ love song.

“When I wrote it, I thought it spoke of true love that you want to last a lifetime,” she wrote. “And true love that you hope will last even longer, that you’ll meet and be together if there is such thing as an afterlife. It’s a wish to have a love that’s that strong.”

Dolly Parton thinks about her husband, Carl Dean, when she sings ‘The Last One to Touch Me’

“I can’t even sing that song without crying, because I think about my husband,” wrote Parton. “I’m sure that when I wrote it, I was thinking about Carl. You’re together when you’re in your young life. You’re together through prosperity. You’re together through sickness and health, through poverty and wealth, until death.”

Parton goes on to write that she knows what she and Dean have is rare.

“Most people don’t get that far,” she wrote. “Most people don’t get through the rough times. Most people don’t get through the poverty part. That’s when things go out the window.”

“But this is about a love that lasts so long that on your deathbed you can say, ‘I want you to be the last one to touch me,'” Parton continues. “Before the undertaker gets me, ha!”

Carl Dean, Dolly Parton’s husband

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Parton met Dean the first day she got to Nashville. She was standing outside the laundromat when he called out to her and told her she was going to get sunburnt. They got to talking and he asked her out. Parton and Dean got married two years later. Today, they’ve been married for 54 years.

Parton and Dean remain deeply in love, it’s no wonder Parton can’t help but get emotional when singing “The Last One to Touch Me.”

“You know what I say… my songs can make you laugh or they can make you cry, myself included,” she wrote.