10 of Dolly Parton’s Favorite Love Songs

Dolly Parton has penned poignant ballads about the people, places and memories around her Smoky Mountains upbringing, along with other life stories and some of the most defining love songs of our time. Her storytelling throughout the decades has a knack for pulling at listeners’ heartstrings, while some of Parton’s songs still touch her own heart.

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In 2017, Parton shared her top 10 love songs that she wrote and performed. For those lost deep in love, thinking of it, or trying to get over someone, Parton has likely written a song for most matters of the heart.

Chosen directly by Parton from her own catalog, and in her order of preference, here are 10 of the country legend’s favorite love songs.

1. “From Here to the Moon and Back” (2012)
Written by Dolly Parton

Originally performed by Parton, Kris Kristofferson and Jeremy Jordan for the 2012 musical comedy Joyful Noise, “From Here to the Moon and Back” is a tender ballad about what someone will do to prove their love. Parton, who also starred in the film alongside Queen Latifah and Keke Palmer, wrote and performed two more tracks for the soundtrack: “Not Enough” and “He’s Everything.”

I could hold out my arms, say, “I love you this much”
I could tell you how long I will long for your touch
How much and how far would I go to prove
The depth and the breadth of my love for you?

From here to the moon and back
Who else in this world will love you like that?
Love everlasting, I promise you that

2. “I Will Always Love You” (1974)
Written by Dolly Parton

What started as a goodbye to her longtime collaborator Porter Wagoner when she decided to go solo, turned into one of Parton’s most beloved love songs of all time. “I Will Always Love You” is also the song that kept on giving. Upon its release in 1974, the song hit No. 1 on the country charts. In 1975, Linda Ronstadt even had some success with her tender rendition. When Parton re-recorded the song for the soundtrack of her 1982 film The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas, “I Will Always Love You” shot to No. 1 again.

Nearly 20 years after its release, Whitney Houston took on the country classic for the 1992 drama The Bodyguard, and the ballad soared back up the charts, spending 14 weeks in the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. Produced by Houston and Clive Davis, the music for The Bodyguard, which also featured Houston’s hits “I Have Nothing” and “Run to You,” along with the Parton classic, sold more than 45 million copies and remains the best-selling soundtrack of all time.

“Dolly Parton is a hell of a writer and a hell of a singer,” said Houston, who felt pressure taking on one of the country legend’s biggest songs. “I was so concerned when I sang her song how she’d feel about it, in terms of the arrangement, my licks, my flavor.”

When Parton first heard Houston’s new version, she nearly crashed her car. “I had to pull over,” revealed Parton. “I was afraid because I was so caught up in that by then that I had to pull over and listen to it. It was the most overwhelming feeling that little song mine could be done so beautifully, so big, so overwhelming, that it really almost just heart attack right there. I’ll never forget it.”

Bitter-sweet memories
That’s all I’m taking with me
Good-bye, please don’t cry
‘Cause we both know that I’m not
What you need

But I will always love you
I will always love you

3. “Love Is Like a Butterfly” (1974)
Written by Dolly Parton

Following the success of Jolene with its title track and “I Will Always Love You,” Parton released two more albums—Porter ‘n’ Dolly and her 14th release Love Is Like a Butterfly—in 1974. The title track of the latter album, “Love Is Like a Butterfly” follows the transformative nature of a partnership.

Love is like a butterfly
As soft and gentle as a sigh
The multicolored moods of love are like its satin wings
Love makes your heart feel strange inside
It flutters like soft wings in flight
Love is like a butterfly, a rare and gentle thing

For some time, “Love Is Like a Butterfly,” which also hit No. 1 on the country charts, was one of Parton’s signature songs and was even used as the theme song for her 1976 music series Dolly!

4. “Head Over High Heels” (2016)
Written by Dolly Parton

Off Parton’s 45th album Pure & Simple, the uptempo “Head Over High Heels” is a more lighthearted gander at love. The album was Parton’s seventh No. 1 country release and also includes a newer rendition of “Say Forever You’ll Be Mine,” which she originally recorded as a duet with Wagoner in 1975.

Put on my tight dress
Hair teased on my head
I painted my lips red
And my eyes like Adele
I step in my high shoes
Cheeks blushed in rose rouge
I’m lookin’ too cool
But you never can tell

5. “It’s All Wrong, But It’s All Right” (1977)
Written by Dolly Parton

In this slower-burning ballad, Parton is torn between all the desires in love. “It’s All Wrong, But It’s All Right” was released on her 19th album Here You Come Again, which reached No. 1 on the country chart and the top 20 of the Billboard 200.

The amber sunset glow has died
My needs are very much alive
Is it okay if I stop by?
It’s all wrong but it’s all right
It’s all wrong but it’s all right

6. “Say Forever You’ll Be Mine” (1975)
Written by Dolly Parton

Recorded as a duet on the 12th collaborative album by Parton and Wagoner, Say Forever You’ll Be Mine, the title track became a No. 5 hit for the duo. More than 40 years later, Parton recorded the song, solo, for her 2016 album Pure & Simple.

Darling, I won’t promise you
That we’ll be happy all the time
But forever I am yours, say forever you’ll be mine
Forever I am yours, say forever you’ll be mine
Say forever you’ll be mine, forever I am yours
And I’ll do anything that you ever ask me to
And I’ll do what you want me to

7. “You’re the Only One” (1979)
Written by Carole Bayer Sayer and Bruce Roberts

Parton’s angelic vocals blanket this slow crooned ballad of longing. Off her 1979 album Great Balls of Fire—which also includes her cover of the Jerry Lee Lewis classic of the same name — “You’re the Only One” topped the country chart. The track was written by Burt Bacharach‘s former wife and one-time co-writer Carole Bayer Sayer with Bruce Roberts, who also penned songs for The Pointer Sisters, Barbra Streisand, and Whitney Houston, among other artists.

I found out the hard way
And I’m never gonna break your heart
I know, too late
And I don’t wanna break your heart
Guess I had to go away just to find
What I left behind

8. “Islands in the Stream”
Written by Barry, Robin & Maurice Gibb 

The Bee Gees‘ Barry, Maurice, and Robin penned the majority of Kenny Rogers‘ 1983 album Eyes That See in the Dark, including his classic duet with Parton, “Islands in the Stream.” The song was originally written for Diana Ross, and the Bee Gees reworked it for the pair. Following Rogers’ first pop hit “Lady” and Parton’s 1981 hit “9 to 5,” “Islands in the Stream” gave the duo their second No. 1 on the pop charts. In 1998, the Bee Gees also released a live version of the song, followed by a recorded one three years later.

Islands in the stream
That is what we are
No one in between
How can we be wrong?
Sail away with me
To another world
And we rely on each other, ah ha
From one lover to another, ah ha

Read more about “Who Wrote” the Rogers and Parton classic HERE.

9. “Pure & Simple”
Written by Dolly Parton

In addition to her updated rendition of “Say Forever You’ll Be Mine” and “Head Over High Heels” on her 2016 album Pure & Simple, Parton also chose its title track, about the divinity of true love, as one of her favorites. The Pure & Simple Tour also marked the 12th and final headlining tour for Parton.

Other love’s so complicated
Broken hearts and twisting minds
Then you came and I’m elated
So unlike the other times

It’s so pure it’s almost sacred
Simply put, it feels divine
I just love you pure and simple
Pure and simple and sublime

10. “Here You Come Again” (1977)
Written by Dolly Parton

In the final slot, Parton circled back (see “It’s All Wrong, But It’s All Right” above) to Here You Come Again and its title track. Peaking at No. 1 on Billboard‘s Hot Country Singles chart and No. 3 on the Hot 100, “Here You Come Again” also earned Parton a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance in 1978.

Here you come again
Just when I’ve begun to get myself together
You waltz right in the door, just like you’ve done before
And wrap my heart ’round your little finger

(Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

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