One Track Mind: Dolly Parton, “Don’t Think Twice,” from Blue Smoke (2014)

Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice,” with its sad acceptance of life’s strange twists set to a plucky finger-picked cadence, always seemed well suited for a country-music makeover. History tells us that Johnny Cash immediately became so enamored of the song that he ended up playing “Don’t Think Twice” at the 1964 Newport Folk Festival — though it had been released just the year before on The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.

In that way, Dolly Parton’s take — featured on her forthcoming new album, Blue Smoke — doesn’t doesn’t come out of left field. At least not as far out there as her gospel take on a Bon Jovi song, featured elsewhere on this May 20, 2014, release for Sony.

Instead, it’s Parton’s way with the lyric that surprises and delights. For Parton, “Don’t Think Twice” becomes a fiddle-driven moment of empowerment. Where Dylan, and to a lesser degree Cash, explored the doubt inside this song’s brush-off lines, we find Parton strutting happily away from this romantic entanglement. You can almost hear the flip of her famous blonde wig between the hootenanny flourishes.

“It’s always been a favorite song of mine,” Parton says. And yet, she doesn’t approach it with a too-reverent nostalgia, and that’s why “Don’t Think Twice” works.

Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.

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