5 Songs You Didn’t Know Dolly Parton Wrote for Other Artists

Iconic singer/songwriter Dolly Parton has put out nearly 50 albums in her career. Indeed, her forthcoming rock record, Rockstar, which is slated to drop in November, will be her 49th. Along with being one of the legends in the business and one of the most beloved people on Earth, the 77-year-old Tennessee-born Parton has used her songwriting talents to help others along the way.

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[RELATED: American Songwriter November Cover Story: Dolly Parton—The Eternal Artist]

Below are five songs you likely didn’t know Dolly Parton wrote for other artists.

1. “In the Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad),” Merle Haggard and The Strangers

Written by Dolly Parton

A few months before Parton released “In the Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad)” on her 1969 album of the same name, Merle Haggard cut the track for his 1968 LP, Mama Tried. “It was Bonnie [Owens] who brought the song to Merle’s attention when the two of them did a short tour with Dolly and Porter Wagoner,” according to the 1994 liner notes by Daniel Cooper for the Haggard album Down Every Road. “Relaxing on Merle’s bus one day, the guys were up front playing poker while Dolly and Bonnie hung out in the back. ‘She sang to me all night long,’ Bonnie says, ‘Songs that she’d written….” Sings Haggard,

We got up before sunup to get the work done up
We’d work in the fields till the sun had gone down
We’ve stood and we’ve cried as we helplessly watched
A hailstorm a beatin’ our crops to the ground
And I’ve gone to bed hungry many nights as a lad
In the good old days when times were bad.

I’ve seen daddy’s hands break open and bleed
And I’ve seen him work till he’s stiff as a board
I’ve seen mama lay and suffer in sickness
In need of a doctor we couldn’t afford
Anything at all was more than we had
In the good old days when times were bad.

2. “Steady as the Rain,” Stella Parton

Written by Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton’s younger sister Stella recorded the Dolly-penned song, “Steady as the Rain” in 1979. It was a top-40 hit, one of her most popular songs (though her biggest hit was the 1975 song, “I Want to Hold You in My Dreams Tonight”). The song “Steady as the Rain” appeared on the same album as “I Want to Hold You in My Dreams Tonight.” In fact, the songs were back to back, on Stella’s 1979 LP, Love Ya. On “Steady as the Rain,” which Dolly also recorded for her 1999 album The Grass Is Blue, Stella sings with vim and vigor,

Raindrops tumble to the ground
Making puddles all around
Drops of rain that look like tears
Fall on my window pane
Raindrops seem to harmonize
With teardrops falling from my eyes
And my tears keep falling down
As steady as the rain

3. “The Company You Keep,” Bill Phillips

Written by Bill Owens, Dolly Parton

Released as a single in 1966 ahead of his 1967 album, Bill Phillips Style, this song features a country twang, slide guitar and an easy-lazy drum beat behind it. On this two-minute song, which Dolly recorded and released in 1967 on her LP, Hello, I’m Dolly, Phillips sings about watching who you spend time with. He croons,

You say you’re doing nothing wrong and I don’t believe you are
I’m only trying to help you sis before you go too far
In my eyes you’re an angel but folks think that you’re cheap
Cause you’re known by the company you keep

Please listen to your big brother I feel I know what’s best for you
I feel it’s best to warn you that’s the least that I can do
I’m not accusing you of anything I know it’s just fun you seek
But you’re known by the company you keep

4. “The Last One to Touch Me,” Porter Wagoner

Written by Dolly Parton

Released on Porter Wagoner’s 1971 album, Simple as I Am, this song was born from the longtime partnership between Wagoner and Parton, which started in 1967 when Porter invited Dolly to join his entertainment organization, which included a popular television show. The two split in 1974, causing Parton to write the all-time classic, “I Will Always Love You.” Parton released her own version of “The Last One to Touch Me” on the 1971 album, Joshua. But Wagoner’s record came out just prior (and just after the 1971 duet album with Dolly, Two of a Kind). On the song, the traditional country star sings about loss.

If there ever was an angel then surely you must be one
If there ever was a perfect love when I look at you I see one
If there’s heaven on earth then this must surely be
And I want you to be the last one to touch me
The last thing I remember before I go to sleep
Is the touch of your sweet lips softly kissing me
And I go to sleep a thinking how happy you make me
And I want you to be the last one to touch me

5. “Too Lonely Too Long,” Lucille Starr

Written by Dolly Parton

Released on the Lucille Starr album, Remember Me, this classic country track sounds like it could have been performed by Patsy Cline. It’s got that shuffle rhythm, that blissful harmony and a warbling voice backed by slide guitars. Starr, a Canadian singer, was known for her 1964 song, “The French Song.” But hearing this makes one wonder why she wasn’t a bigger star. That aside, Dolly released her own rendition of her own song on her 1970 album, As Long as I Love. But it was Starr who cut it first for the 1968 album. Sings the clear-voiced Starr about the fear of feeling the human touch again,

No matter how you’re tempted
Don’t say yes to me
Don’t make this night as smooth to lead me on
It’s just that I’m so lonely and I need someone
I’ve been too lonely too long
Oh please be strong enough to refuse me
Before I let myself do something wrong
For down inside I’m not that kind of woman
I’ve been too lonely too long

Photo by Tom Hill/WireImage

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