Gloomy Tunes: A Thanksgiving ballad

It’s Thanksgiving, so instead of featuring a sad song, we’re going to have a song that lets us know to be thankful for what we have. And what better song for that than Dolly Parton’s classic “Coat of Many Colors.” It’s based on Parton’s life, growing up poor in rural Tennessee. So poor, in fact, that instead of buying new clothes for school, her mother used to sew up spare pieces of fabric and rags for their outfits. While doing this, she would tell them the story of Joseph’s Coat Of Many Colors, which was handed down to him because he was the most loved son of Israel. But when she proudly wore her coat to school, they other kids made fun of her. But Parton, instead of being ashamed, realized that her coat was made with love, and it worth more than all their clothes.

Parton wrote the song while on tour with Porter Wagoner. She famously had no spare paper, so write the song on the back of a dry cleaning receipt for one of Wagoner’s suits. When the song became a hit, Wagoner had the scrap of paper framed. It reached #4 on the country chart in 1971.

Steven Mirkin

Steven Mirkin’s diverse career has taken him from politics to pop culture to high art, offering him a front row seat to some of the most fascinating events and personalities of our time: writing speeches, fundraising appeals and campaign materials for Ed Koch, John Heinz and independent presidential candidate John B. Anderson; chronicling the punk/new wave scenes in New York and London; interviewing musicians such as Elton John, John Lydon and Buck Owens; profiling modern masters Julian Schnabel, Paul Schrader and Jonathan Safran Foer; and writing for TV shows including 21, The Chamber, Let's Make A Deal, and Rock Star: INXS.

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