Joy Behar says ‘Jolene’ needs Beyoncé’s heat, calls Dolly Parton’s lyrics ‘anti-feminist’

In April 2023, following a rejuvenating two-week escapade in Italy, Joy Behar, a seasoned panelist on The View, returned to the limelight, unintentionally unraveling an incident that had unfolded during her travels—a moment of heated exchange where she uttered an unbecoming word to a woman.

“The folks there, mostly delightful. But, I had this run-in with one lady, quite the scene,” the 81-year-old shared candidly with her co-hosts. When prodded by Whoopi Goldberg about the linguistic choice, Behar elaborated, “Oh, in English, naturally. The issue? She wouldn’t grant me access to the first-class lounge for a quick restroom break. I pleaded, ‘Just a moment, please!’ But to no avail. So, I had to resort to less-than-pleasant language. I told her straight, ‘Don’t act like a…’ well, you know.”

Although the setting—whether a plane or a train—remained ambiguous, Behar lamented the indignity of being “relegated to coach.”

Fast forward to April 2024, and Behar, never one to shy away from controversy, found herself critiquing a beloved musical masterpiece—the iconic country ballad, Jolene, penned by the revered 78-year-old songstress, Dolly Parton. Behar, renowned for her outspoken nature, levied a bold claim, asserting that the song’s lyrics harbored undertones of anti-feminism.

Taking pride in her self-proclaimed role as the catalyst for Parton’s acknowledgment of her feminist stance, Behar proceeded to juxtapose the timeless melody with a contemporary rendition by none other than Beyoncé. On her album Cowboy Carter, Beyoncé had breathed new life into Jolene, infusing it with a fervent warning, reminding the titular character, “You don’t want no heat with me.”

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In a thought-provoking comparison, Behar dissected the thematic evolution between Dolly Parton’s original rendition of “Jolene” and Beyoncé’s modern interpretation. While both versions grapple with the looming specter of infidelity, their approaches diverge significantly.

Parton’s plaintive plea to Jolene—”please don’t take my man”—has long resonated with audiences, capturing the anguish of a woman confronting the threat of romantic betrayal. In stark contrast, Beyoncé’s rendition reframes the narrative with assertive defiance. Rather than begging, Beyoncé warns Jolene, asserting her agency with the resolute declaration, “find you your own man.”

In a candid conversation with The View producer Brian Teta on the Behind the Table podcast, Behar articulated her preference for Beyoncé’s lyrical adaptation, citing concerns over the underlying implications of Parton’s original lyrics. To Behar, Parton’s portrayal seemed entrenched in antiquated notions of femininity, centering on the fear of losing a man to a perceived rival.

“Beyoncé’s take on the song,” Behar explained, “shifts the focus from insecurity to empowerment.” By firmly asserting her boundaries and warning of dire consequences, Beyoncé’s Jolene refuses to be relegated to a passive role in the face of potential infidelity.

Behar’s candid critique sparked a flurry of reactions among fans, with opinions divided on the reinterpretation of the iconic tune. While some echoed Behar’s sentiments, applauding Beyoncé’s bold stance, others remained steadfast in their appreciation for Parton’s timeless original. One netizen, expressing their allegiance to the country legend, remarked, “Dolly’s ‘Jolene’ is one of the few country songs I truly adore.”

In the wake of Behar’s commentary, discussions surrounding the enduring legacy of “Jolene” continue to ignite passionate debates, underscoring the song’s enduring relevance and the diverse perspectives it evokes.

Dolly Parton

As the debate over Beyoncé’s rendition of “Jolene” versus Dolly Parton’s classic version raged on, passionate fans took to social media to voice their opinions.

One commenter vehemently defended Parton’s status as a “class act” and criticized Beyoncé for supposedly overstepping her boundaries, suggesting that the Houston native should “stay in her lane.” They also took a swipe at Behar, calling for her retirement and dismissing her critique as uninformed.

Another fan expressed unwavering loyalty to Parton, dismissing Behar’s commentary with a curt suggestion for her to “go fly a kite.” The sentiment echoed a widespread sentiment among Parton’s admirers who saw Behar’s remarks as unfounded criticism.

In the midst of the backlash against Behar, one commenter took a more direct approach, expressing disdain for the talk show host herself rather than engaging with her critique of the song. “I’m anti-Joy Behar! Anybody else?” they quipped, encapsulating the frustration felt by many who disagreed with Behar’s perspective.

Amidst the contentious debate, a surprising twist emerged—a moment of reconciliation between the two musical icons. In a heartwarming interlude preceding Beyoncé’s rendition of “Jolene,” Parton herself made a cameo appearance, bridging the divide between past and present.

Addressing Beyoncé affectionately as “Miss Honeybee,” Parton’s Southern charm shone through as she reflected on the inspiration behind the song. With a touch of humor, she recounted a personal anecdote, drawing parallels between Beyoncé’s muse and someone from her own past, albeit with a slight difference in appearance.

Parton’s interlude served as a poignant reminder that, despite differing interpretations of the song, both artists shared a mutual respect and appreciation for each other’s craft. In this moment of unity, the focus shifted from rivalry to celebration—a testament to the enduring power of music to bring people together, even amidst disagreement.

As Beyoncé’s album “Cowboy Carter” made its debut, Dolly Parton took to Instagram to express her excitement over the release of Beyoncé’s interpretation of “Jolene.”

In her post, Parton shared her candid thoughts, acknowledging Beyoncé’s rendition with admiration. “Wow, I just heard Jolene,” she wrote. “Beyoncé is giving that girl some trouble and she deserves it! Love, Dolly P.”

The endorsement from the country music legend added a new layer of significance to Beyoncé’s reinterpretation, affirming the song’s relevance and the creative interplay between two musical powerhouses.

However, as fans engaged with both versions of the song, opinions remained divided. Some enthusiasts found Beyoncé’s lyrics too assertive, contrasting with the plaintive plea of Parton’s original. The divergence in styles sparked lively debates among fans, each championing their preferred rendition.

The ongoing discourse highlighted the subjective nature of musical interpretation, underscoring the diverse perspectives that enrich the experience of listening to and engaging with timeless classics like “Jolene.”



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Amidst the ongoing debate over the contrasting renditions of “Jolene,” individuals took to social media to voice their perspectives.

One commenter lauded the original version for its sophistication and subtlety, contrasting it with what they perceived as the aggression of Beyoncé’s interpretation. To them, the elegance and intelligence of Dolly Parton’s delivery stood out as a hallmark of the song’s enduring appeal.

Another netizen offered a tongue-in-cheek observation, humorously suggesting that the titular character of “Jolene” had unwittingly sparked turmoil by flirting with the wrong man back in 1973, setting off a chain of events that continued to reverberate through time.

In a thoughtful analysis, a third commenter aligned with Joy Behar’s critique of the original lyrics, praising Beyoncé’s rendition for its empowerment of women. They argued that the notion of begging a woman not to take one’s man might not resonate with everyone, highlighting Beyoncé’s consistent portrayal of strong, independent women throughout her career. In their view, both versions of the song held merit, each contributing to a rich tapestry of musical expression.

These diverse viewpoints underscored the multifaceted nature of music appreciation, with listeners interpreting and engaging with songs through their own unique lenses and life experiences.

The intersection of genres in music often sparks passionate reactions from fans, and Beyoncé’s foray into country music with her rendition of “Jolene” has certainly stirred up some strong opinions.

Some traditional country music enthusiasts have expressed discomfort with Beyoncé’s venture into their beloved genre, arguing that she should stick to her own style of music. They believe that Beyoncé’s presence in country music may not resonate with established fans of the genre, leading to a sense of unease among some listeners.

As for the new rendition of “Jolene,” opinions are divided. Some appreciate Beyoncé’s bold reinterpretation, seeing it as a refreshing take on the classic song that adds new layers of depth and meaning. Others, however, remain staunchly loyal to Dolly Parton’s original version, feeling that Beyoncé’s rendition may not capture the essence of the song as they know and love it.

Ultimately, music is a deeply personal and subjective experience, and the beauty of art lies in its ability to evoke a wide range of emotions and responses from listeners. Whether you’re a fan of Beyoncé, Dolly Parton, or both, the discussion surrounding the new rendition of “Jolene” offers an opportunity for fans to share their thoughts and perspectives, enriching the musical conversation and celebrating the diversity of musical expression.

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