Beyoncé’s “Jolene” Cover Has Some Powerfully Defiant Lyrical Updates

“You know that hussy with the good hair you sing about?” Parton says. “Reminded me of someone I knew back when except she has flaming locks of auburn hair, bless her heart.”

Even before its release, Cowboy Carter made an important cultural statement about the roots of country music, reclaiming the genre for the Black artists who shaped it. Now that it’s finally here, the follow-up to Renaissance is proving to be a powerful (and eminently listenable) statement, cementing Beyoncé’s country credentials. In addition to the Parton collab, Cowboy Carter features Miley Cyrus on “II Most Wanted,” Willie Jones on “Just For Fun” (featuring an intro by Willie Nelson), and pioneering Black country artist Linda Martell teeing up the boppy groove “Ya Ya.”

In an Instagram post earlier this month, Beyoncé opened up about the inspiration for Cowboy Carter, alluding to the racist backlash to her performance of “Daddy Lessons” at the 2016 Country Music Awards. “The criticisms I faced when I first entered this genre forced me to propel past the limitations that were put on me,” she wrote. “act ii is a result of challenging myself, and taking my time to bend and blend genres together to create this body of work.”

We’ve only had a few hours to listen to it but so far, Cowboy Carter sounds very much like the genre-blending country record we need right now. Watch out, Jolenes everywhere.

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