Olivia Newton-John’s final recording: a duet with Dolly Parton!
Olivia Newton-John’s final recording was a duet with Dolly Parton. The last song Olivia ever recorded was Dolly Parton‘s song Jolene. Their version of Dolly’s song is out on February 17, 2023.
The duet, which was recorded in late 2021, will also be featured on Olivia’s upcoming duets CD which has also been announced today, February 17.
Dolly wrote the song Jolene in 1973 and it has been recorded by a plethora of artists, including Olivia herself. Olivia consistently included Jolene in her set list when performing live. Her live version on the 1982 Physical tour is famous:
Dolly and Olivia admirers of each other’s work
A collaboration between Olivia and Dolly is something Olivia’s fans have been waiting for for years. So it is a pleasure to see that they managed to pull it off in Olivia’s lifetime, even though Olivia had in effect retired from music. Olivia would definitely have been proud of the final result, which she was probably able to listen to before she passed.
After Olivia’s passing in August 2002 Dolly posted the message below. Dolly has always been supportive of Olivia, also in the turbulent years at the beginning of Olivia’s career when she was not fully accepted by the country scene in the US because “how could a British-born and Australian-bred girl be a country singer in the United States of America?” She proved everyone wrong and the critics soon sang a different tune when Olivia showed her versatility and crossed over to several other musical genres later in her career as well.
Dolly has said of Olivia: “My first memory of Olivia was when her song Let Me Be There was a hit. I have loved her ever since. We had many occasions that we got to share together, either backstage or performing on the same shows, and I loved every moment that I ever got to spend with her. I’ve always been inspired by her grit, tenderness, willingness, and determination.”
Dolly’s sister Stella Parton, who also sided with Olivia during the country feud in the seventies, even wrote a song about and for Olivia called Ode to Olivia.
Jolene revisited as a duet
Olivia and Dolly’s current version of Jolene as a duet was produced by pianist Dane Bryant, a longtime member of Olivia’s band when she was touring.
Olivia and Dolly’s version can be found for streaming on several media channels such YouTube, Spotify and Soundcloud – with Soundcloud offering the best sound quality. As from May 5th it will also be available on the Duets CD.
A video of Dolly and Olivia recording the song (on different locations) can be watched on Olivia’s YouTube channel. It shows Olivia sitting down, probably because her illness would not allow her to stand during the full recording session.
Duets CD: Just the Two of Us
The upcoming Duets CD will be titled Just the Two of Us and will feature previously unreleased songs, included the duet with Dolly. In her lifetime Olivia has recorded many duets (you can find over overview here) and on May 5th a Duets CD will be released which had been in the works for a long time, but had been postponed several times due to Covid and Olivia’s illness. Finally it will see the light of day! The track listing for the new CD is as follows:
- Suddenly – Cliff Richard)
- Jolene – Dolly Parton
- Act Of Faith – Michael McDonald
- Window In The Wall – Chloe Lattanzi
- Take A Chance (Remastered 2021) – John Travolta
- Put Your Head On My Shoulder – Paul Anka
- Face To Face – Barry Gibb
- I Honestly Love You – Jim Brickman
- The Best Of Me – David Foster
- True To Yourself – Vanessa Amorosi
- Lost Inside Your Heart – Jon Secada
- I’ll Come Runnin’ – Tina Arena
- Never Far Away – Richard Marx
- How Can You Mend a Broken Heart – Kelly Lang
- Stone in My Pocket – Beth Nielsen Chapman, Amy Sky
- Love Is a Gift – Delta Goodrem
- Hopelessly Devoted To You – Mariah Carey
Two songs which we have never heard before stand out in this list: Lost Inside Your Heart with Jon Secada and True To Yourself with Vanessa Amorosi. Most of the other songs have appeared before on regular Olivia CD’s or have been available as digital downloads.
It is clear that Primary Wave has tried to strike a balance between the well-known songs such as Suddenly, a duet with Cliff Richard for the soundtrack of Xanadu, I Honestly Love You (with pianist Jim Brickman), and Hopelessly Devoted To You (a live version with Mariah Carey), and on the other hand the lesser known (or previously unreleased) songs that will most certainly appeal to Olivia’s die-hard fans.
More information about the Duets CD is expected to be announced soon by Olivia’s team and Primary Wave/Green Hill Music.