Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Dolly Parton, “Tennessee Homesick Blues”

“Tennessee Homesick Blues”

Dolly Parton

Written by Dolly Parton

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

August 10, 1984


#1 (1 week)

September 8, 1984

Given that they were written expressly for her movies, it’s impressive how well Dolly Parton’s film-inspired songs stand on their own.

“Tennessee Homesick Blues” stands proudly alongside “9 to 5” and “Eagle When She Flies” in this unique category.  By virtue of her playing a cornbread country singer, Parton turns in her most traditional country performance since the early seventies.  Accompanied by fiddle and steel, Parton leans into her twang and even yodels throughout the record as she pines for her Smoky Mountain home.

The lyrics are playful as she takes stock of New York City, where “when you smile, people look at you funny. They take it wrong.”  The Big Apple has taken a bite out of her, and she needs to get back to her old feather bed.  Still, she’s gotta pay the bills, so all she can do is dream about home while she toughs it out in the city that never sleeps.

Rhinestone was Parton’s third studio film, and though it didn’t do well at the box office, it produced another top ten hit with “God Won’t Get You,” the second single from the project.  Parton hadn’t been dominating radio since “I Will Always Love You” in 1982, but she visited the top ten three other times, with “Hard Candy Christmas,” “Save the Last Dance For Me,” and the Willie Nelson duet “Everything’s Beautiful.”  

We’ll see Parton again in 1985, with a single from her final RCA album.

“Tennessee Homesick Blues” gets an A

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

Previous: The Judds, “Mama He’s Crazy” |

Next: George Strait, “Let’s Fall to Pieces Together”

Open in Spotify


  1. As a huge Dolly fan I can’t say this is one of her best, but with Dolly its almost always good even when not great. I actually think all of the other “solo” songs on this soundtrack are better than this one. If you haven’t heard them it may be worth a listen. Give the song “One Emotion After Another” a try.

  2. Somehow this record escapes being a ‘list” song. She hits all the cultural country touchpoints without ever sounding like she is posturing or ticking boxes.

    Another example of how sincerity and charisma count when presenting a narrative.

    Dolly is the real deal.

    An entire dissertation could be written about the line, “It’s hard to be diamond in a rhinestone world.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.