This is lovely. Personally, I remain partial to the White Stripes’ version…falsetto and all.
Musically, I love this song. Lyrically, though, not my cup of tea.
My personal favorite version is The Geraldine Fibbers’… Carla’s voice makes all other versions sound quite trite.
Parton’s original is an amazing influential classic and one of my favorites, but lately I’ve been enjoying this rebuttal from Jolene’s husband’s perspective from Estonian band Ewert and the Two Dragons.
Canadian John Oswald played with Dolly Parton’s voice back in 1988 on his Plunderphonic EP. He took her rendition of “The Great Pretender” and kept slowing it down until she sounds like a black soul singer. He even mentions the fact that people were already doing the same thing with the Jolene 45. From the pedantic album notes:
Pretender (based on ‘The Great Pretender’ written by Buck Ram)
features the opportunity for a dramatic gender change, suggesting a
hypothesis concerning the singer, Ms.Parton, perhaps worthy of
headlines in the National Enquirer. The first inklings of this story
came from fans of Ms.Parton’s earlier hit single ‘Jolene’. As many
consumers have inadvertently discovered, especially since the
reemergence of 12’ 45rpm records of which this present disc is a
peculiar subset, it is not uncommon to find oneself playing 45rpm
sides at the LP standard speed of 331/3. In this transposed tempo
‘Jolene’ reveals the singer to be a handsome tenor. Additional layers
of homosexual longing , convoluted menages ˆ trois and double
identities are revealed in a vortex of androgyny as one switches,
verse to verse, between the two standard playback speeds.
Pretender takes a leisurely tour of the intermediate areas of Ms.
Parton’s masculinity. This decelerando reveals, complete with
suggestive lyrics, an unaltered transition between the ‘Dolly Parton’
the public usually hears and the normally hidden voice, pitched a
fourth lower. To many ears this supposed trick effect reveals the
mellifluous male voice to be the more natural sounding of the two.
Astute star gazers have perceived the physical transformation, via
plastic surgery, hair transplants and such, that make many of today’s
media figures into narrow/bosomy, blemish-free caricatures and
super-real ideals. Is it possible that Ms. Parton’s remarkable voice
is actually the [chipmunked] result of some unsung virile ghost lieder
crooning these songs at elegiac tempos which are then gender polarized
to fit the tits? Speed and sex are again revealed as components
intrinsic to the business of music.
Back in my old college days, we used to become pleasantly disoriented then play games with the turntable. Dolly Parton 45s played at 33 sounded like Bruce Springsteen. Bruce Springsteen records played at 45 sounded like Dolly Parton (or Loretta Lynne or something). We also loved to bump the turntable on certain artists/tracks that were enhanced by such shenanigans. Yes, we were bad stewards of the sacred vinyl. And my roommate went on to own a record shop.
I’m pretty sure it’s the original slowed down. It’s cool.
Here’s a fun cover by the Sisters of Mercy from way back when:
I may be descending further in to madness and my imagination working overtime, I’m sure I heard someone on Radio 4 the other day saying that Jolene sounds better slowed down to 33rpm.
Here’s the converse, Springsteen’s I’m On Fire speeded up sounds just like Dolly Parton.
I’m pretty sure too, especially after hearing someone’s pitch correction back to sounding like Dolly’s voice on this version. Which is even more cool.
That’s really great!
If you think that’s something, check out a similar version of “9 to 5”:
I once heard a DJ play “Imaginary Lovers” by the Atlanta Rhythm Section at a faster rate. It sounded exactly like Stevie Nicks.
A while back I accidentally chucked a Ryan Adams LP on the turntable without switching it to 33. Once the lyrics kicked in my wife asked me when I bought a Dolly Parton record.
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