The ‘Two Doors Down’ Version That Beat Dolly Parton’s Recording to the Top of the Charts

Dolly Parton — The Queen of Country and the Smokey Mountain Songbird —  has been writing and recording Billboard-topping hits for over five decades. Every so often, Dolly Parton writes a song that someone else covers and gains attention for. Parton and Whitney Houston will always share “I Will Always Love You.” However, Whitney Houston was not the only artist to see Parton’s songwriting talent and feel compelled to sing her own rendition of a Parton number. 

Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton | Ian Gavan/Getty Images

Today, Dolly Parton’s recording of “Two Doors Down” is the more commonly played version on the radio. Yet, though she wrote the song, she was not the first to record it, and another artist managed to beat her to the charts with “Two Doors Down.” 

Zella Lehr released her version of ‘Two Doors Down’ before Dolly Parton 

Zella Lehr is an American singer who has had hit records on RCA Records and Columbia Records. Some of her most memorable numbers include “Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry,” “I Can’t Help Myself,” “Danger, Heartbreak Ahead,” and more. She actively recorded from the mid-1970s into the mid-1980s. 

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Lehr’s version of “Two Doors Down” remains one of her most popular recordings, as she managed to release it before Parton released her version. Zella Lehr’s version, released in late 1977, managed to stay on the charts for 18 weeks. Lehr then went on to receive nominations from the Academy of Country Music and Cashbox Magazine in the “Most Promising Female Vocalist” category. Dolly Parton released her version a bit later, and it succeeded, but arguably not to the same extent as Lehr’s (at least initially). 

Comparing the two versions of ‘Two Doors Down’

Lehr’s version of “Two Doors Down” peaked at Number seven on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles Chart in 1978, and at number five on the Canadian RPM Country Tracks in the same year. 

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Later in 1978, Dolly Parton’s version of “Two Doors Down” peaked at 19 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Chart, at 12 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks, and at 26 on the Canadian RPM Top Singles. Over the years, likely due to star power and other factors, Parton’s recording has become the prominent version. Yet, initially. Lehr’s recording gained a lot of attention and steam. 

Lehr’s version of “Two Doors Down,” though boasting a signature country rhythm, has a bit of a pop flair and a little less vocal twang than Parton’s recording. Yet, both songs are fun sing-a-long hits.