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Dolly Parton, a child prodigy, wrote her first song when she was only 5 years old. From an early age, many of her songs featured mature themes. In her 2020 book, Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics, the Queen of Country recalls a song she wrote when she was still living at home called “Out of the Silence (Came a Song).” At the time, she felt proud of the message.

Dolly Parton performs onstage wearing a yellow dress in 1975 in Los Angeles, California.
Dolly Parton | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The inspiration for Dolly Parton’s ‘Out of the Silence (Came a Song)’

Parton isn’t a stranger to writing songs in graveyards. They’ve always proved to be an inspiring location for the Queen of Country.

“I remember sitting up on Graveyard Hill with my guitar,” she wrote. “I was thinking about all those people in their graves, wondering about their lives, of all the things that might have happened to them. I was thinking about what was going on in my life and about the other people around me.”

Then, suddenly, “Out of the Silence (Came a Song)” literally came to her.

“It was really an inspired kind of song,” she wrote. “It’s unusual, a little different. But I really liked it. When I was writing it, I knew it was special.”

As she was writing, Parton could tell the song was different from her normal repertoire. It carried a profound meaning.

“I remember that when I wrote this one, I thought, ‘That’s a little deeper than what I’ve been writing,'” she wrote. “I took a lot of pride in it. I felt kind of ‘grown up,’ somehow, when I wrote it. I felt like somebody needed to hear something that I was so inspired to write.”

‘Out of the Silence (Came a Song)’

Though Parton wrote the song when she was young and still living in East Tennessee, it ended up on the 1971 LP Porter Wagoner Country.

You have the legs to walk along while others are born lame
You have a mind to think with while others are insane
You live while others die and yet no thanks are shown
Out of the silence came this song

‘Out of the Silence (Came a Song),’ by Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton’s songs are her children

Parton never had children of her own. But she says her songs are her babies. From the moment Parton wrote ‘Out of the Silence,’ she knew it was a special one.

“When you write as many as I do, there are some that you can take or leave,” she wrote. “They’re like your kids. Some of them are more well behaved. Some of them have better qualities. But they are all yours.”


Why Dolly Parton Initially Said She’d ‘Never’ Produce or Adapt ‘Dumplin’

Though Parton has said she used to dream of being a mother, she’s also said that she believes she wouldn’t have been as successful had she had children.

“I have often said that my songs are my children and that I expect them to support me when I’m old,” she wrote. “Well, I am old, and they are!”