Beyond all the hair and boobs and makeup and glitter, Dolly Parton is, at her essence, a songwriter – and a prolific one at that. She’s written some of the most iconic country songs of all time, and if country music does any one thing right, it’s the story-song. Today’s song pick is one of my favorite Dolly Parton story-songs, “Joshua.”
“Joshua” tells the tale of an innocent Dolly walking down the railroad track of her hometown and in so doing, passes the run-down shack home of Joshua, who is rumored to be the meanest guy in the town. She doesn’t believe it and has to find out for herself because she didn’t believe “nobody could be that mean. Amazingly, Joshua actually ends up being nothing more than misunderstood and they find that they have a lot in common and fall in love, sharing the little old run down shack. What Dolly’s parents might have to say about this turn of events is anyone’s guess.
I discovered this song during a massive Dolly Parton Napster downloading party that I had one day when I was home sick from work. Most of my knowledge of Dolly’s work at that time was limited to her 80s and 90s output, save “Coat of Many Colors”, “Jolene”, and “I Will Always Love You.” I found a Dolly Parton compilation that highlighted her 60s and 70s work and started looking for songs and as it turns out, “Joshua” was one of them. I always figured it would be about Joshua from the Bible, but the actual song ended up being a whole lot more interesting than I predicted based on the title. I still feel kind of bad that I downloaded all those songs for free from Napster, but Dolly has gotten so much of my money over the years, I feel like it’s kind of evened out.
Now that NBC has agreed to do movies of Dolly’s songs, here’s hoping that “Joshua” will be one of them. It will certainly be a better choice than “Me & Little Andy” or “Down From Dover” might be!
*perhaps my favorite part of the song is when Dolly sees the “big black dog laying out in the yard” and “swalleRed hard.”