Dolly Parton Wanted to Buy Her Mom a Mink Coat After ‘Coat of Many Colors’ Became a Hit—Why She Wanted Money Instead

<p><a href=””>Dolly Parton</a> fans know the singer’s famous <a href=””>“Coat of Many Colors” song is inspired by true events</a>—<a href=””>Parton’s mother, Avie Lee</a>, made her daughter a coat from scrap pieces of fabric and her schoolmates made fun of her for it. The country star has said that writing about the incident years later was a healing experience. And the fact that it became so popular and resonated with so many people is even better. Parton wanted to repay her mother for her coat of many colors once she became a famous country singer. She thought it’d be appropriate to buy her a fancy mink coat. But Avie Lee said she’d prefer cash.<strong> </strong></p>

<figure class=”wp-block-image size-custom-image-1200″><img decoding=”async” width=”6000″ height=”4000″ src=”″ alt=”Dolly Parton speaks onstage into a microphone.” class=”wp-image-3504610″ srcset=” 6000w, 150w, 640w, 768w, 1024w, 1536w, 2048w, 1200w, 90w” sizes=”(max-width: 6000px) 100vw, 6000px”><figcaption class=”wp-element-caption”>Dolly Parton | Kevin Winter/Getty Images for ACM</figcaption></figure>

<h2><strong>Dolly Parton’s coat of many colors</strong></h2>

<p>When little Parton needed a new coat for the winter, her mother got to work gathering scraps of fabric. Typically, Avie Lee tried to use scraps that were all similar in color. But, knowing her daughter’s personality, she used all the brightest colors she could find. Parton was so excited for her new coat that she watched her mother work on it from start to finish. When it was done, she wouldn’t take it off her body, she was so excited to show it off to all her siblings. The night before she wore it to school for the first time, she hardly slept. It was better than Christmas eve. </p>

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<p>But once Parton got to school, her <a href=””>classmates made fun of her</a> new coat that she was so proud of—”A whole room full of mocking faces; laughing, pointing, jeering at me… me and my coat.”</p>

<p>“My heart was broken,” Parton wrote in her first memoir, <em>Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business. </em>“I couldn’t understand the cruelty, the ignorance that made them laugh at me that way.” </p>

<p>Parton’s teacher suggested she put her coat away in the cloakroom, hoping to put a stop to the mocking. But Parton kept it on. </p>

<p>“They would not shake my pride in my coat, my love for my mother, my faith in myself,” she wrote. “I would not have it. I would sit there and be hot and wait them out. I would wait until school was over and walk proudly from the building wearing my coat like a banner of pride.” </p>

<h2 id=”h-it-s-amazing-how-healing-money-can-be”><strong>‘It’s amazing how healing money can be’</strong></h2>

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<div class=”jetpack-video-wrapper”><iframe loading=”lazy” title=”Coat of Many Colors” width=”925″ height=”694″ src=”” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture; web-share” allowfullscreen></iframe></div>

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<p>As painful as that memory was to Parton, she later regarded it as “a great blessing.”</p>

<p>“It was what inspired me years later to write the song that has become my signature piece,” wrote Parton. “<a href=””>‘Coat of Many Colors’ is still my favorite song</a> that I ever wrote or sang. It also was a big hit, and that did a lot to help me forget that early pain. It’s amazing how healing money can be.” </p>

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<p>The song was released in Sept. 1971 as the second single and title track from the <em>Coat of Many Colors </em>album. It reached number 4 on Billboard’s US Hot Country Songs chart. </p>

<p>After the song was released and climbed the charts, Parton felt she wanted to repay her mother for her coat of many colors. She wanted to take her mom to Knoxville and buy her a mink coat as a gesture. But Avie Lee had a different idea.  </p>

<p>“Mama is the type of person who is somewhat uncomfortable about somebody making her an offer like that,” wrote Parton. “At first she came back with a joke: ‘It’s bad enough we have to eat little varmints. I don’t want to have to start wearing them.’ Then she took on a more serious tone as she said, ‘Shoot! Where would I wear a mink coat, to a pie supper? Give me the money instead.’ So I did.”</p>

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