In high school I participated on the track team. Because I was a sprinter, I worked out with the boys team to push my time down. One day as I was walking to the track, passing the boys locker room one of them spotted me and began singing the song ‘Jolene’ by Dolly Parton. The others joined in and their voices resonated off the walls and drifted throughout the area. This is my first recollection of the song and how it related to me. At that time, I had no idea that in nearly every week of my life going forward, someone would ask me about that song.
They ask questions such as:
Have you heard of that song ‘Jolene?’ ‘Yes, yes I have,’ said with a smile.’
Does anyone ever ask you about that song ‘Jolene?’ ‘Yes, all the time.’
Were you named after that song? ‘I was born way before the song came out…’
Do you hate that song? ‘No, not at all.’
I’ll bet you get tired of hearing that song. ‘I really don’t think about it one way or the other.’
Did you take her man? ‘No, I have my own.’
Sometimes, they’ll just break out into singing it to me. It’s such a part of my life, I’m just used to it. I really didn’t analyze my thoughts on this matter until I was on the phone with a customer service representative named ‘Brandy.’ She asked about the song and I gave my usual answer of ‘Yes, I’m always asked about the song,’ and ‘No, I don’t mind at all.’ Then she said she could relate because her name is ‘Brandy.’ I said, “Oh! By Looking Glass. I love that song! In fact, one of the main characters in three books that I’ve written is named Brandy after the girl in that song.” She replied, that her parents had named her that because her dad was a sea captain. I said, “Funny, I named the character Brandy because she was married to a sea captain!” We both laughed at how a song had integrated its way into our lives. With that exchange, I stepped back and began consciously listening to what people would say to me about the song.
As a joke, I downloaded ‘Jolene’ as a ringtone. After the novelty wore off, I changed my ringtone. However, for some unexplained reason, the Bluetooth in my car would begin playing the song every time I started the vehicle. Even my millennial boys couldn’t figure out how to make it stop. Funnier still, I was working in Washington and driving a rental car. Somehow, the Bluetooth in the rental car began playing the song and I couldn’t get it to stop. It would be easy to just turn it off, but I needed the GPS system to help me navigate the several hours that I was driving. If I turned it off, the GPS would stop. So, for several hours I had to hear the song in its entirety over and over and over.
While at a doctor’s office, the receptionist called ‘Jolene’ to which two of us got up and walked over. It turned out we had the same name. This had never happened to either of us before. The first question I asked was, “What is your middle name?’ Her first question to me was, ‘How do you spelled it?’ During our time together, we would look at each other and smile, almost like some kind of sisterhood had instantly developed. There aren’t very many of us out there apparently.
The obvious benefit to this notoriety is that people seldom forget my name. I guess you could call it a great marketing tool. So for that, I thank you Dolly!
Thoughts that are alien to any of my other projects can be found here.