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Top 30 Soldier Songs: #9 – “Welcome Home” by Dolly Parton

December 9, 2008

For God and Country coverDolly Parton, probably the most symbolic female in the history of country music, has covered every concept the world has to offer…including the soldier song. In 2004 she released a single from her patriotic album For God And Country titled “Welcome Home” that was her tribute to the servicemen and women of America and took a look at the soldier concept from every angle in the eyes of those left here at home, from death to the return home.

Dolly’s mid-tempo patriotic release didn’t receive much airplay, but became a popular video on CMT and GAC by taking advantage of the growing consideration for the men and women of the US Armed Forces at the time. Despite it’s emotionally charged storyline which follows many twists on the term “welcome home” when referring to a soldier, Dolly manages to keep the song upbeat and simplified. By eliminating the tear-jerking aspect of the message Dolly was able to produce a track that encouraged more thinking than grieving. What could have been a very powerful and overproduced single that would have ended up lower on this list became a well established and respectable tribute that encouraged more respect for those who put their lives on the line than sorrow for what they have sacrificed.

Dolly’s song follows three different stories from three different perspectives. The first verse focuses on a father awaiting the arrival of his son, who is getting out of the service and returning home from war. Dolly captures the impatience of the father as he wait to see if his son returns home alive and when he does the term “welcome home” is all that needs to be said to sum up the feeling between father and son. The second verse is not so positive, focusing on a mother who has a awakes in the middle of the night at the same time her son falls in battle. She realizes what has happened through instinct and comes to grip with the fact that her son has just died. Her son goes to heaven, considered his new home. Finally the third verse brings a more religious massage into the mix by referring to Jesus and God and their welcoming fallen heroes home, to heaven.

Dolly has a way of taking a song and making it her own. This comes from experience and a willing to stretch the boundaries in her own way and this song is no different. By playing the the production and using her voice as more of a means of telling a story rather than singing a song she creates a powerful soldier song without so much power behind it. In the wrong hands this song could have been great, but in the hands of a master like Dolly this story about soldiers returning home, one way or another, is still a masterpiece four years later.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. chris permalink
    December 23, 2008 3:27 pm

    “Dolly has a way of taking a song and making it her own”. This statement is true but out of place here considering she wrote this song.

  2. cowboybleau permalink*
    December 23, 2008 10:26 pm

    My bad Chris. I did not know that.

  3. sheldon permalink
    February 5, 2009 6:57 am

    This song should have been a hit – one of her best recent singles, and once again, completely ignored by country radio…

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