Retro Single Review: Dolly Parton, “I Really Got the Feeling”/”Baby, I’m Burnin'”

“I Really Got the Feeling”

Written by Billy Vera

Peak: #1 Country | #11 Adult Contemporary (B-Side)

“Baby I’m Burnin'”

Written by Dolly Parton

Peak: #48 Country |#25 Pop | #11 Adult Contemporary | #15 Dance (Disco)

In a strange twist, this double-sided hit has the pop singer writing the country hit and the country legend penning her own disco number.

“I Really Got the Feeling” isn’t any less pop than its flip side, but it still managed to top the country chart, Parton’s fourth consecutive #1 on that list. Written by Billy Vera of “At This Moment” fame, it’s a pretty terrible composition. Upon first listen, an understandable reaction would be that it has a pretty weak first verse: “I felt it from the moment we met you didn’t ask me my sign,” and then, “I love my daddy but it really don’t matter what my daddy might say.”

Then the song continues and you find out that it wasn’t the first verse; it was the chorus. Parton sings it beautifully, but the material simply isn’t up to her level as a singer or a songwriter.

Grade: C-

So if a pop singer writing a country song was a disaster, Dolly herself taking a stab at a disco tune must be even worse, right?

Wrong.

“Baby, I’m Burnin'” is a killer disco track that still sounds great today. Very much of the era, but not overwhelmed by it. A big reason that it works is that Parton’s jubilant persona is a good fit for dance music in its late seventies form. When the genre moved toward synthesized sounds in the eighties, her natural warmth would often sound out of place. But she sounds great here. She knows she’s singing a silly song for people to dance to, and she commits to it wholeheartedly.

And don’t let the cotton candy substance of the song fool you. A great disco song isn’t any easier to write than a great country song, and having a talent for the latter doesn’t necessarily translate to having one for the former. Just ask one of the greatest songwriters country music has ever known – Bill Anderson.  Listen to “Trust Me,” which kicked off his attempt a disco album, Ladies Choice, the same year Parton sent “Baby I’m Burnin'” to clubs…

…and then go listen to Parton’s track again. It’s a keeper, and one that’s proven timeless enough for her to still open her shows with it today.

Grade: A

Next: You’re the Only One

Previous: Heartbreaker

 

7 Comments

  1. I’m just the opposite of the review. I Really Got The Feeling is one of my favorite Dolly songs. Not sure why I like it so much but it definitely seems like a ‘Dolly’ song, at least among the other songs she recorded at that time. She sings it brilliantly and I like the arrangement. Billy Vera is a great songwriter and Dolly picked a good song to cover. I love it.

    Baby I’m Burnin’ is a good song but it’s also usually one of the songs I skip when listening to hits packages. It’s full of energy and Dolly sure sounds like she’s having a great time singing it, but it just isn’t anything special IMO.

  2. I think a rule of thumb when it comes to Dolly is that she has a history of doing what she wants and doing it the way she wants it done, and this can drive some fans nuts. “I Really Got The Feeling” is quite innocuous, I agree, but it is hardly as bad as some of the drivel we’ve had on country radio in recent times (Kelsea Ballerini’s hammy twang on “Dibs”, anyone?); while “Baby I’m Burnin'” is Dolly having fun at being something of a belter.

    As a side note, “Baby I’m Burnin'” was on the pop chart in the winter of 1979 at the same time as her Trio pal Linda Ronstadt’s remake of the 1965 Motown classic “Ooh Baby Baby”.

  3. While I Really Got the Feeling is not a great song. The vocal is very good and it’s an enjoyable listen. I would probably give it a B- or C+. Not great, but always enjoyable.

    Baby I’m Burnin’ is great for what it is. just meant to have fun. It clearly was not meant to be taken seriously. Knowing what Dolly is capable of writing I would give it a poor grade. However, knowing its meant to just be fun, I would agree with the A.

  4. Well, that Bill Anderson song has scarred me for life. I don’t think laughter was the reaction he was going for, but that’s what it got from me. As for Dolly’s songs, I like them both but don’t consider either to be essentials by her standards. But Baby I’m Burnin’ is good, if dated, fun.

  5. Speaking of retro: Your friends at Country Standard Time appear to have run out of time. None of the links work.

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