Retro Single Review: Dolly Parton, “You’re the Only One”

“You’re the Only One”

Written by Carole Bayer Sager and Bruce Roberts

Peak: #1 Country | #37 Pop | #12 Adult Contemporary

Parton scored her fifth consecutive number-one single since 1977 with “You’re the Only One” (follow-up “Sweet Summer Lovin'” would break the streak). “You’re the Only One” comes from the pens of pop songwriters Carole Bayer Sager and Bruce Roberts, the former of whom had already supplied Parton with the hit “Heartbreaker”.

Even though Parton didn’t write this hit, it proves a fine fit for the warmth and vulnerability that Parton naturally brings to her vocal performances. The story is simple, but Parton breathes life into the character, richly conveying the narrator’s contentment and hopefulness as well as the regret over past choices.

Even though the song found its greatest success on the country chart, Parton remains very much in crossover mode on the recording. The gentle, soft-rock arrangement supports the song nicely and unobtrusively and still holds up today. “You’re the Only One” may not rank among Parton’s top-tier crossover hits, but Parton’s compelling performance makes it a gem worth revisiting.

Grade: A-

Next: Sweet Summer Lovin’/Great Balls of Fire

Previous: I Really Got the Feeling/Baby I’m Burnin’



  1. I love this song. It is similar in nature to “Heartbreaker” but still very good. I wish she would have recorded a bit more soft rock songs.

  2. Another one of my favorites from Dolly’s crossover period. Besides traditional country, she also did this style of music very well, imo. I love the typical late 70’s/early 80’s soft rock sound.

  3. Not sure where this particular clip came from, but it is is similar in nature to most performance clips from talk and variety shows in Europe. Those were almost always lip synched, whereas most American performances were live.

  4. In a real way, it’s not too terribly hard to understand why Dolly started doing the crossover thing in the late 70s with material like “You’re The Only One”. Obviously there were those who saw this as a betrayal, but Dolly herself didn’t; she reportedly had said “I’m not leaving Country, I’m taking it with me.” I don’t think she could ever have become as big as she became without doing a certain amount of pop crossover, and then getting into movies. She has always been driven; and given the fact that her life began in a state of extreme abject poverty in east Tennessee, it is easy to see why.

    And it isn’t like she forgot her mountain roots. The Trio projects and The Grass Is Blue are proof of that (IMHO).

  5. Dolly had to cross over to become what she is today. I love her late 70’s pop and she really did great when she sang these types of songs. However, I would REALLY love to see her do another bluegrass album. She seems to excel at bluegrass more than any other genre

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