The Story Behind The Song: “Yellow Roses”

The new album launched with “Why’d You Come In Here Looking Like That,” which sent Dolly back to the top of Billboard’s country singles chart after a comparatively long dry spell of a little over three years. The second single to come from “White Limozeen” was “Yellow Roses,” a tune Dolly wrote specifically for the project. While she and Skaggs were looking over potential tunes in preparing for the album, Dolly said, “Well, here’s one you might like,” and played it for him. Ricky responded with “Yeah, I like that a lot. It’s really country.”

As a performer and producer with a particularly traditional country bent, Skaggs had never used strings on any of his records. The fiddle was prominent, of course, but he had never recorded with a string ensemble before. But when Ricky heard “Yellow Roses,” he thought, “That’s the Dolly of old – the ‘60s Dolly right there,” and he wanted to include the “Nashville Sound” strings from that era on “Yellow Roses.”

The long-dormant technique worked, and “Yellow Roses” returned Dolly to the summit of Billboard’s country singles chart on November 25, 1989, marking her 23rd number one Billboard country hit (including her two chart-topping duets with Kenny Rogers, one with Porter Wagoner and one as a member of the “Trio,” featuring Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris). Dolly brought in two more number ones with “Rockin’ Years,” a duet with Ricky Van Shelton in 1991 (written by her brother Floyd Parton) and “When I Get Where I’m Going,” a duet with Brad Paisley in 2005. That one ties Dolly with Reba McEntire for the most number one Billboard country hits by a female artist (25). 

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