Retro Single Review: Dolly Parton, “In the Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad)”


July 26, 2011

1968 | Peak: #25

A frighteningly candid depiction of Parton’s impoverished childhood.

Going to bed hungry. Watching her mother suffer with illness because they can’t afford a doctor.  Working from sunrise to sunset, only to see a hail storm destroy your crops.

This isn’t the charming idealization of “Coal Miner’s Daughter”, or even the dogged resilience of “Coat of Many Colors.”  This is poor people trying to get by against insurmountable odds, walking the tight rope without a safety net.

It’s the same story that could be told by any one of the 44 million Americans today who live below the poverty line.

There will be a lucky few who beat the odds like Parton did, and her words will surely ring true:  “No amount of money could buy from me the memories that I have of then. No amount of money could pay me to go back and live through it again.”

Written by Dolly Parton

Grade: A

Listen: In the Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad)






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Category: Retro Single Reviews, Single Reviews
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6 Comments so far

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  1. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    Great song. That couplet in the chorus is… I can’t even think of the right adjective.

  2. Erik NorthNo Gravatar says:

    Yes indeed, Dolly’s childhood story would very easily parallel those living under the poverty line.

    And country radio today would, in my opinion, totally ignore such a song.

  3. Paul DennisNo Gravatar says:

    Great song , one of Dolly’s best, although I liked Merle Haggard’s version (an album track) even more than I liked Dolly’s version

  4. Adam JamesNo Gravatar says:

    This is one of the things that people like so much (myself included) about older country music was that it told the truth warts and all. I hardly think that a song like this would be put out on an album these days by any mainstream country artist, and country music is the lesser for it.

  5. J.R. JourneyNo Gravatar says:

    You singled in on my favorite lines.

  6. Tom PNo Gravatar says:

    An almost perfect song. Dolly re-recorded this in 1973 for her “My Tennessee Mountain Home” album and that is my favorite version of this song. The Merle version is very good too.

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