Originally written and performed by Dolly Parton in 1973. The White Stripes covered it in 2004.
A story about a vandalized woman who is desperate to keep her love hers forever, and away from from the seduction of “Jolene.”
This song receives an edgier interpretation from the White Stripes. I believe they are attempting to reveal that Jolene is not just a person, but a personification of all unknown fears and temptations that lie outside our comfort zones. Losing your man to Jolene is losing your man to the abyss where you know you will never find him again.
The tone of this cover suggests that there is more at stake than someone’s relationship ending. Rather than Jack White admitting to love a man, I believe the Stripes were attempting to reveal that ‘my man’ may also be more than just a person – ‘my man’ is a part of us. When someone you love leaves you, you are not just mourning the loss of them, but the loss of them within you. What I believe this song suggests is that there is a fear of losing part of yourself into the unknown temptations of the world.
Overall, I enjoyed this song an awful lot. It sounded different from the original, and offered a new interpretation to a classic song. It honours the message of its source material, while still fitting seamlessly among The White Stripes’ repertory of songs.