Dolly Parton made headlines recently when she respectfully bowed out of her nomination for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While she said she didn’t want to take votes away from anyone else in the running for the 2022 Induction class, she was not removed from the ballot, which had already gone out to the voters.
No, her name isn’t one of the first you think of when you think of Rock and Roll, but the country icon has covered many pop and rock songs in her storied career, making many of them her own while giving each of them a country feel.
We take a look and rank the best pop/rock covers Parton has recorded and included on her many albums over the last five decades.
Original: Bob Dylan – Dolly recorded her version of this classic song for her 2005 album of covers. A classic protest song, it's from Dylan's second album, 1963’s The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan album.
Original: Pete Seeger (songwriter) – The lyrics consist of the first eight verses of the third chapter of the biblical Book of Ecclesiastes. This was made a hit in 1965 by The Byrds.
Original: Gale Garnett – Dolly's version of this already bright song breathes new life into the "sunshine." Dolly’s version won the Grammy Award for Best Ethnic or Traditional Folk Recording in 1965.
Original: Cat Stevens (1971) Parton had the song set to a dance mix.
Original: Neil Young (1970) – The Trio's version of this classic song won a Grammy in 2000 for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals. When it came out, Parton said of the song, "I loved the song on Neil Young's album. But I didn't know what the song meant. Linda and Emmy knew Neil, so we called him and asked him. He said, 'I have no idea.' I thought that was so funny. I think it's about the Second Coming or the invasion of aliens, or both."
Original: Ed Roland – Dolly gave an excellent country sound to this song that was released as the debut single for alternative rock band Collective Soul in 1993.
Original: Eddie Miller, Dub Williams, Robert Yount - Originally released in 1966 by Engelbert Humperdinck, Parton is one of many artists who have covered this classic pop hit.
Original: Gary Jackson, Carl Smith (songwriters) - This was another iconic hit that Dolly put her own spin on. R&B legend Jackie Wilson first recorded the song in 1967.
Original: Jackie DeShannon (1969) - It’s so “Dolly” you’d almost think that she wrote it.
Traditional – Dolly arranged this traditional song with Mike Post in 1980. This song's most successful commercial version came in 1964 by the British rock band The Animals.
Original: Jerry Lee Lewis (1957). Dolly loved this song so much that she named her 1979 album after it. Parton knew Jerry Lee, and in 1988 he joined her for a duet on her ABC TV variety show "Dolly!"
Original: Katrina and the Waves – Kimberley Rew wrote this song for Katrina and the Waves' 1983 debut full-length album. Dolly takes the music to a new level giving it an upbeat country beat.
Original: Bread (David Gates) – Recorded in 1971 by Bread. Parton's version of this song was released as a single in the U.K.
Original: John Lennon – Dolly's version of this classic 1971 John Lennon song hits the mark. During an interview for this album, I asked Parton what came to mind when she heard the word "imagine"? In true Dolly style, she quipped, "imagine" how much money I would have made if I wrote the song."
Original: Bon Jovi (Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora 1989) – Parton's version of this song is epic and very different from the original rock song.
Original: Tommy James and The Shondells (1968) – Dolly's version is a classic of its own as she incorporates the banjo and features the song's original creator Tommy James.
Original: Fine Young Cannibals (1988) – This is the song Dolly added to her Backwoods Barbie album, and she joked at the time, her husband Carl, a big rock fan, just "hates" it when she “ruins” a song like this for him.
Original: Led Zeppelin (1971) - Considered one of the greatest rock songs of all time, it was bold for Dolly to take a swing at this one, but it worked and got a lot of attention for ‘Halos & Horns.’
Original: REO Speedwagon (1978) – A big hit for REO, Dolly really shines in this song that she turns into a bluegrass staple.
Original: Johnny Mathis (1957) – This is the one song released as a single from this 2005 album. Keith Urban sings along with Dolly, and that same year, Parton was the surprise guest and sang it with him when Urban played a show at CRS (Country Radio Seminar).
Original: The Beatles (1965) This song has been covered by so many, but Dolly makes it her very own. I love the banjo she adds to the classic tune. Dolly once spent time in the early 1970s with Paul McCartney and his wife when they visited her backstage at the Grand Ole Opry.