Since releasing her debut solo album, 1967’s Hello, I’m Dolly, more than 50 years ago, Dolly Parton has changed the face of the entertainment industry. Kicking down doors for female performers in both country and pop music, she has soared in the worlds of books, television, philanthropy and movies — and pretty much whatever else she tackled.
On top of it all, her expansive roster of hits reads like a “best of” list of the 1970s and 1980s, and it remains one of the strongest song catalogs of any singer-songwriter in any genre. As a writer, she has penned everything from poignant, detailed ballads about life in the Smoky Mountains, where she grew up, to some of the most defining love songs of all time.
Her prowess as a songwriter and performer is so great, it earned her a historic induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2022 — an accomplishment she almost didn’t accept, telling Billboard at the time that she didn’t feel like she “measured up” to past inductees. A legacy like hers, however, deserves the title of “rock star” no matter what style of music she makes, and the world agreed. She went on to become the second female country artist (after Brenda Lee) to be inducted in both the Rock & Roll and Country Music Halls of Fame. (Parton has also been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.)
“People usually [say] ‘Dolly rocks’ or ‘you rock’ or ‘you’re a rock star,’” she said. “I thought they just meant that I was cool, and I took that as a great compliment. But now I’m going to have to take it literally!”
In choosing our favorite Dolly Parton songs, we settled on these 15. Many of them came from her own pen, and all of them will “Always” have staying power. To be fair, we could do a list of our favorite Dolly duets, too, but wanted to keep this one solo focused.
Keep reading to see Dolly Parton’s 15 best songs to date below.