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Dolly Parton Says Beyoncé Might Feature ‘Jolene’ on Her New Album. Here’s the Story Behind the Hit Song

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Dolly Parton says Beyoncé might feature her hit song "Jolene" on her upcoming album, Act II.

In an interview with Tennessee’s Knox News to mark the opening of the season at her amusement park Dollywood, the country star said: “Well, I think she has! I think she's recorded ‘Jolene’ and I think it's probably gonna be on her country album, which I'm very excited about that.”

The news outlet said she was very careful about her wording because Parton wasn’t sure whether a cover of “Jolene” would actually make the final cut of the album. But she said that she’s been in touch with Beyoncé over the years. "She and her mother were like fans, and I was always touched that they were fans, and I always thought she was great," she said.

"She's a beautiful girl and a great singer," Parton added. Beyoncé has so far released two singles from Act II, which comes out March 29: "Texas Hold 'Em" and "16 Carriages." After "Texas Hold 'Em" made history, hitting number one on Billboard's Hot Country Songs and making Beyoncé the first Black woman to top the chart, Parton congratulated the singer on Instagram.

"Jolene" has been widely covered since its release on Oct. 15, 1973, including by the White Stripes, Miley Cyrus, and Lil Nas X. One of the most memorable performances of the song was Katy Perry's duet with Parton at the 2016 Country Music Awards.

In the song, Parton implores the titular Jolene not to steal her man. It's a "cheating song" removed of anger; Parton acknowledges Jolene's incomparable beauty and the power she holds. She addresses her directly: "Your smile is like a breath of spring, your voice is soft like summer rain, and I cannot compete with you, Jolene."

Parton has said that the song is inspired by an incident in which a bank teller was flirting with her husband. “Jolene” is about “a woman who tried to steal my man," she told a crowd at a concert in 1977. "She pulled my wig off and almost beat me to death with it. I fought that woman like a wildcat. I had another wig, but I didn't want another man."

The name Jolene was inspired by a fan who asked Parton for her autograph. As she explained to NPR in a 2008 interview: "One night, I was on stage, and there was this beautiful little girl — she was probably 8 years old at the time…And she had this beautiful red hair, this beautiful skin, these beautiful green eyes, and she was looking up at me, holding, you know, for an autograph. I said, 'Well, you're the prettiest little thing I ever saw. So what is your name?' And she said, 'Jolene.' And I said, 'Jolene. Jolene. Jolene. Jolene.' I said, 'That is pretty. That sounds like a song. I'm going to write a song about that.'"

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Write to Olivia B. Waxman at olivia.waxman@time.com