Days after releasing his debut album “Montero” to widespread acclaim – and landing three songs on Billboard’s Top 10 – the singer shared his rendition of Dolly Parton’s legendary ballad “Jolene” on Twitter. The Queen of Country was so moved by the cover that on Wednesday she took to Twitter herself to share her reaction.
“I was so excited when someone told me that Lil Nas X had done my song #Jolene,” she wrote. “I had to find it and listen to it immediately…and it’s really good.” She then thanked him, adding, “I was surprised and I’m honored and flattered. I hope he does good for both of us.”
Lil Nas X, born Montero Lamar Hill, is hardly the first to cover Parton’s 1973 hit single. According to NPR, more than 30 singers from around the globe have put their spin on the song. Notable among them are Parton’s goddaughter, Miley Cyrus; The White Stripes; Patti Smith; and Norah Jones. Parton herself joined the Pentatonix for a cover, earning them a Grammy for Best Country Duo/Group performance in 2017.
In Lil Nas X’s cover, the artist returned to his “Old Town Road” country roots with dreamy vocals and a mellower sound than the original. Donning a white collared shirt, he stands out against the dimly-lit background as he begs the song’s eponymous redhead not to steal his man. A full band joined him for the performance, which took place in BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge.
On the radio show, Lil Nas X explained his choice: “This song is kind of like beautifully sad, you know? I like the little twang, like the country twang in it. So I was like, ‘Lemme try this out.’”
Although Lil Nas X and Parton have yet to collaborate, the rapper is making his rounds with the Cyrus family. His duet with Billy Ray Cyrus, “Old Town Road” was his breakthrough hit, while Miley Cyrus features on “Am I Dreaming,” the final track on “Montero.” It might not be “Jolene,” but a Parton-Lil Nas X collab seems to be in the cards.