Song of the Day, March 22: Down From Dover by Dolly Parton

DollyDoverToday’s song is Down From Dover by Dolly Parton. It appeared first on her wonderful 1970 album The Fairest of Them All. That fairy tale style title serves the disc well, since it is filled with tragic characters and stories with sad twists. Down From Dover is one of the most tragic, the tale of a young woman, pregnant with her lover’s child, waiting for him to return. He never does, despite her abiding faith in him, and the baby is stillborn, sending her a sign that she must move on.

The whole thing could be unbearably melodramatic, but Dolly’s unique vocal power manages to make it poignant and sad instead. She wrote most of the album, really coming into her own as a composer, and this track shows a perfect marriage of her lyrics and music. The narrative is dense and tight and Dolly’s vocal moves perfectly from defiant to hopeful to despairing.

I loved him more than anything and I could not refuse him when he needed me
He was the only man I’d loved and I just can’t believe that he was using me
He couldn’t leave me here like this I know it can’t be so it can’t be over
He wouldn’t make me go through this so long he’ll be coming down from Dover

The song has been covered many times, by women as diverse as Skeeter Davis, Sally Timms, Nancy Sinatra, and Marianne Faithfull. While each of the covers lends something distinct to its lyrical power, nothing matches the broken beauty of Dolly’s original.

Enjoy this tragic tale of woe today.


About Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
Freelance writer, researcher, online comic vendor, and project manager. Fan of a wide range of music -- especially folk and 80s pop -- vintage comics, British TV, and LGBT fiction.

One Response to Song of the Day, March 22: Down From Dover by Dolly Parton

  1. Always have to love our Dolly!

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