November 17, 2011
It’s doubtful that any record could be universally agreed upon as the greatest country single ever made. But any conversation on that topic would have to include serious consideration of “Coat of Many Colors.”
It’s also doubtful that I can add anything meaningful to the conversation about the song itself. Better writers and historians have already covered it all, so much so that I can’t separate what I’ve read about it from whatever original thoughts I might have.
I will say that whenever I think about the autobiographical events in the song, it makes me sad. But when I actually listen to it, there’s an optimism that shines through. Maybe it’s just the perspective of having seen some success by the time she recorded it.
Or maybe the song taps into her resilient inner child, the one who had the strength to endure such humiliation without knowing what a bright future lay ahead of her.
Despite all the achievements and accolades she’s earned, “Coat of Many Colors” suggests that Parton’s finest moment might have been in that classroom all those years ago.
Written by Dolly Parton
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