Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Dolly Parton, “Think About Love”

“Think About Love”

Dolly Parton

Written by Richard “Spady” Brannan and Tom Campbell

Radio & Records

#1 (1 week)

February 7, 1986


#1 (1 week)

March 8, 1986

After nearly two decades of success together, RCA and Dolly Parton parted ways in 1985, making Real Love her final studio album for the label.

Rather than just continuing to pull singles from that album, they chose to remix two of the album tracks and have them anchor a new compilation: Think About Love.

This factoid has been a bit lost to history because this compilation has never been released on CD and the remixed single version of “Think About Love” remains stranded on its original 45.  I’ve embedded a YouTube video of the remix below, but the review rates the original album version.

But that’s actually a good thing, because the added percussion to the remix of “Think About Love” is distracting and undermines the strength of its original version. Much like the recent Rosanne Cash hits, this was produced by David Malloy, who was great at contrasting the sweetness of a country vocal with the chill of electric synthesizers.

“Think About Love” works so well because its subtle synths leave open space for Parton to let loose as a vocalist.  Her performance is simply amazing here.  She’s in complete command of her instrument, and her trills are goosebump-inducing, especially on the bridge, where her heartsickness is palpable.

It’s her last great pop record.

Grade: A

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. I agree on both. It’s her last good pop record and the original is MUCH better than the remixed version. The song itself is not an “A” song but Dolly brings so much life to it that it elevates it to an “A”.

  2. Mentioning David Malloy’ influence highlights for me just how important the producers were to the decade’s output.

    Then again, that has probably always been the case across the decades. I have just become more aware of the contributions David Malloy Jim Ed Norman, Jimmy Bowen, Ron Chancey, etc. made to the diversity of sound to ’80s country music

    As for Dolly, I still feel guilty how dismissive I was of her as an artist when I would enter my teenage years and get caught up in the excitement of new traditionalism.

    At the time, I had no patience for this song. She crossed some synthesizer pop-line she could not return from. She had become a silly country personality, almost to be apologized for in my mind.

    I guess the upside to my appalling naivety was having the opportunity for my jaw to hit the floor when I later discovered the depth of her artistic brilliance and the reach of her cultural significance.

    Is it too late to admit she does sound amazing here?

    • For a lark, go back and read the comments from the first time I named Parton the greatest woman in country music history back in 2008, vs. the reaction when she was No. 1 again in 2018. It took a long time for a lot of people to realize her greatness.

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