Released just before Dolly Parton's star would rise considerably, “If Teardrops Were Pennies” was a surprisingly big hit, becoming Porter & Dolly's highest charting single to date.
It's a simple country song, with their signature retro feel. As I've written before, they're always most believable when they keep it country and focus on the heartache.
Originally a hit for Carl Smith in 1951, “Teardrops” sounds great on its own. But like all of their duets at this particular point in time, it suffers in comparison to the forward-looking material that Parton was writing and recording at the same time. They could have just as easily recorded this in 1967, and it would have sounded exactly the same.
Written by Carl Butler
Previous: Traveling Man
I’d give this an A-
I don’t dock music for not being “forward looking”. Rather I prefer to focus on the excellence of execution, and from that perspective Dolly and Porter would struggle to maintain this peak, both as a duo and as solo artists
Personally, I do think there’s very much something to be said for music that is forward looking. I think such music is generally more interesting, more memorable, and is better able to stand the test of time. So I would consider it a balanced criticism to say that this song “suffers in comparison” to the forward looking material Parton recorded as a solo artist. I think it’s a fine record in its own right, but I don’t necessarily see it as a peak for Dolly Parton.