The Stories Behind the Songs

You know the hits, but do you know what inspired them?

Dolly Parton’s famous song, “Jolene,” is so popular that it is still being covered by well-known artists today, including Parton’s goddaughter, Miley Cyrus. Parton claims that she was inspired to write the song by a red-headed clerk at the local bank that she and her husband used when they had just gotten married. Apparently, this clerk flirted with her husband so often that she became the motivation for Parton to write the song.

Another famous Dolly Parton tune, “Coat of Many Colors,” was written in 1969 when she was with singer Porter Wagoner on a tour bus. Interestingly, Parton had no paper to write on when she was struck with the idea for the song. Instead, she had to write the lyrics on the back of a dry cleaning receipt that she found lying around the bus. When the song eventually became a hit, Wagoner had the receipt framed.

One of Joni Mitchell’s biggest radio hits, “Big Yellow Taxi,” was actually written in paradise. While on a trip to Hawaii, Mitchell arrived at her hotel in the middle of the night. The next morning she opened the curtains in her room to gaze upon the beautiful landscape that Hawaii had to offer only to find a giant parking lot outside her window. She spent the next day writing the song that would later reach the Top 40 charts. Fueled by the pain she felt for the earth around her, she wrote “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot. With a pink hotel, a boutique, and a swinging hot spot.”

Guitar Girls is now playing in FST’s Goldstein Cabaret. To get tickets, call (941) 366-9000 or visit

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s