Top 10 Dolly Parton Duets and Collaborations
Dolly Parton is a singer, songwriter, author, actress, philanthropist and superstar in her own right. She has churned out more than 80 albums and more than 100 singles in her 70-plus years of life, with an unparalleled career that has spanned 40-plus years.
Parton, a Country Music Hall of Fame member, has also had the opportunity to blend her voice with some of the most iconic artists of the past several decades, both on her many records and as a guest vocalist for other singers’ projects. The following are The Boot’s picks for Parton’s Top 10 duets and collaborations.
“When You Tell Me That You Love Me”
This song was first recorded by Diana Ross in 1991, but it’s Iglesias’ version with the country legend, which was included on his 1994 album, Crazy, that proved most memorable. The sweeping, dramatic ballad is also included on Parton’s 2008 four-CD set, The Tour Collection, which was released in the U.K.
Parton and Latifah teamed up both on the silver screen and in the studio for the 2012 film Joyful Noise. They each contributed several songs to the soundtrack, but it’s their joint contribution on this song that stands out the most. Citing all of the places that they can find God, like “when the children play” and “when the church bells ring on wedding days,” the seasoned vocalists’ delivery of this tune makes us think that they were born to make music together.
Promising enduring love through all the phases of their sweet life together, from “rockin’ chairs” to “rockin’ babies,” this gently rockin’ tune helped both stars earn platinum status for their respective 1991 albums, Parton’s Eagle When She Flies and Van Shelton’s Backroads. The No. 1 smash — her 23rd and his eighth — was penned by Parton’s brother Floyd.
This Parton-penned track (not to be confused with the Ray Stevens hit) was included on 1982′s The Winning Hand, which featured several unreleased Monument Records tracks cut by Parton, Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Brenda Lee during their time at the legendary label. Offering something of a glimpse into her humble upbringing in a one-room cabin in East Tennessee, Parton sweetly sings, “I can’t help but ponder, life is such a wonder / And everything’s beautiful in its own way.” Beautiful indeed.
Jones included this track on her sophomore record, Feels Like Home, which was a smart decision for the young songbird. The album went on to sell more than five million copies, with this tune earning her a Grammy nomination for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals. The simple lyrics — “Creep on in, creep on in / And once it has begun / Won’t stop until its done / Sneaking in” — and the acoustic vibe have us imagining that they were singing on a back porch in the country instead of in a studio or on a stage.
As gorgeous as the Parton/Latifah duet from the Joyful Noise soundtrack is, this song is likely to stay with you even longer — and it’s because of its powerful message. It’s an ethereal love letter between Parton and Kristofferson, who play a married couple in the film. The message is a simple but powerful one: Time, distance and life’s challenges may interfere, but they do little to change the deep love between them.
Imagining the afterlife, Paisley sings, “When I get where I’m going / There’ll be only happy tears / I will shed the sins and struggles / I have carried all these years.” But it’s Parton’s otherworldly voice that can still stop us in our tracks. The second single from Paisley’s 2005 album, Time Well Wasted, this tune was fittingly a success on both the country and contemporary Christian charts.
Penned by Jack Clement, this song was just one of the many duets that Parton recorded with her mentor and close friend Wagoner. First featured on the 1970 album Porter Wayne and Dolly Rebecca, the song laments, “When they ask who’s in the picture, I say, ‘Just someone I used to know,’” and could be seen as something of a premonition. Although Parton and Wagoner acrimoniously parted ways in 1974, the pair made peace with each other before he passed away in 2007. Parton visited him at his bedside on the day he died.
Before she left Wagoner’s TV and stage show for a hugely successful solo career, Parton wrote the now-world-renowned hit — and one of her signature songs — for him to express her deep admiration for his role in her life and career. She has since re-recorded it several times and includes it on nearly every career-spanning compilation (we that hear Whitney Houston even recorded a rather successful pop version), but we’re most captivated by the rendition Parton and Gill did in 1995, which earned the pair a CMA Award for Musical Event of the Year.
The Bee Gees penned it, but Parton and Rogers elevated this song to classic status, earning a No. 1 record on the pop, country and adult contemporary charts in the U.S. and sailing away to the upper reaches of the charts in several other countries as well. Recorded for Rogers’ Eyes That See in the Dark album in 1983, the song says, “You do something to me that I can’t explain,” yet it’s easy to understand the universal appeal of the bouncy, platinum-selling tune, which also topped CMT’s list of the Best Country Duets of All Time. Parton and Rogers are the best of pals and make an incredibly memorable duo; they also partnered together on “You Can’t Make Old Friends” in 2013.