Slowing it down

In testament to people who must have too much time on their hands, you have to read this article.  Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” Song Is Completely Transformed When Slowed to 33 RPM

Fascinated, I read the article and played both of the embedded songs (from YouTube) and it really was amazing and left my head shaking.  I would encourage you to do so too.

Now, those like me who like and enjoy country music will recognize the song and have a real appreciation for the original and wonder about the slower version.

I also had to have a little smile.  If I was a teenager today, I might be really puzzled.  First of all, “who is Dolly Parton?”  Secondly, “what’s a record player and what’s the difference between 45 rpm and 33 rpm?”  My kids know the difference because I still have a turntable and an album collection.  I know that I’m in the minority.

Now, in my iTunes library, I do have a copy of Jolene.  I can’t remember whether I bought it through the iTunes store or ripped it from a CD-ROM but it’s there and pops up every now and again when I’m playing music randomly.  

I wonder — could I replicate this in iTunes?  I clicked everywhere and saw no options to adjust the speed.

I fired up Audacity where there is an option to speed up or slow down.  I could indeed adjust the playback speed but not significantly enough.

Other alternatives?

I zipped over to YouTube on the web where there are all kinds of recordings of this wonderful song.

I could certainly play it but that’s about it.

I turned to my smartphone.  I did have the YouTube app installed there and loaded the music.  Here, there was an option!

From the Hamburger Menu, there is indeed an option to change the playback speed.  I did a little mental mathematics to see if I could come close to adjusting to 33 rpm.  The results?  

Well, I couldn’t replicate it but I could kind of replicate something that sounded like the Chipmunks.  Does anyone remember the Chipmunks?

It was fun tinkering around and was a reminder that you can respect your time by speeding up playback on things like podcasts, even by a bit, and your mind still understands the message.


Now, I’m off to play “Stairway to Heaven” backwards.  Bonus marks if you know why anyone would want to do that.

Author: dougpete

The content of this blog is generated by whatever strikes my fancy at any given point. It might be computers, weather, political, or something else in nature. I experiment and comment a lot on things so don't take anything here too seriously; I might change my mind a day later but what you read is my thought and opinion at the time I wrote it! My personal website is at: Follow me on Twitter: I'm bookmarking things at:

6 thoughts on “Slowing it down”

  1. Doug, I will admit that when I first read this blog post, I couldn’t focus on any of the words because all I heard was JOELENE playing in my head. I love country music and I really love Dolly Parton. Now that I’ve gotten past this, I wonder about the implications here for music or even media literacy. How does the speed change the song (or the advertisement it’s in)? I wonder if adjusting songs might be something worth trying with students at times. (Maybe not for me in Kindergarten this year, but for somebody.)


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  2. Thanks for the comment, Aviva. How many of your parents would have a record player! It’s amazing how songs get in your head. I just got home from a dog walk and Coat of Many Colours came up on the iPod. That’s going to remain with me for a while. She is such a talent. Yesterday, I heard a cover of Hard Candy Christmas and it stuck for a while too!

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  3. I’m always on the hunt for wonderful covers that take a known original and make it so much more.

    I heard someone perform Jolene on the CBC sometime recently, and they sang it slowly and it really changed the effect of the song. With a different mood and a pace that lets you hear the lyrics for what they are, it really is a different song from the one that Parton made famous.

    I took a look to see if I could find the artist that I might have heard, but wasn’t able to see anyone who had done a notable cover recently. However, a visit to the Wikipedia entry for the song showed that The White Stripes had performed a well-received cover almost 20 years ago. Apparently their live cover from the Under Great White Northern Lights tour is the one to hear:

    You’ve likely heard the Johnny Cash cover of Hurt by Nine Inch Nails. It is so much more poignant the way Cash sings it — especially when you see the imagery in the video and understand where he was at in his life when he recorded it and interpret it in the context of his personal history.

    On a more upbeat note, another “how could it be better?” cover is the cover of Don Henley’s classic Boys of Summer (great video for the 1984 original) by The Ataris. Such a great song and such a great cover that many of their fans thought it was an original by them. Great replication of the guitar riff at 2:47 ….

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  4. I think I might prefer the slower version! I can’t say I have been a big fan of the original, but I do appreciate it all the same. Cool cover by Jack White there via Andrew. I suspect there will be a few hours of the song playing in my head now too 🙂

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  5. I love that song and now it’s stuck in my head. And I’m off to play The White Album backwards. Do you know why???

    Have you seen this version of Jolene with Dolly Parton, Miley Cyrus and Pentatonix?

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  6. Oh, Jolene! I, too, am a big fan of Dolly’s work, and of covers that make me rethink the song. One of my favourite things about Pentatonix and Dolly together is how much mutual respect there obviously is.

    This past year, while attending Mr 15’s music night, I got to hear a remarkable version of Jolene. A group of about 8 Grade 8 girls sang a handful of songs with their teacher accompanying them on guitar. These were songs that they had each brought to the group as a possible suggestion to work on together. One young woman in particular was very shy about being on stage, but when the group went into Jolene, her head came up and her love for thé song was there for all to see. After the performance I went to thank them (the teacher is a friend) and purposely mentioned how happy I was that someone in the group had suggested Jolene, since it was a favourite of mine. I was rewarded with a delighted smile from the shy young woman, who told me it was her grandpa’s favourite song.

    My favourite recent Dolly recording is her amazing cover of Brandi Carlile’s The Story

    There is a turntable at this house, and both teens and I buy new releases on vinyl (and enjoy the digital downloads that come with them). We also still have a double cassette deck, and Mr 17 and friends have been known to create mixtapes from their parents’ vinyl and cassette collections.

    Favourite covers? Don’t get me started! Anything that Johnny Cash did in the last years of his life, especially U2’s “One”. And recently, Rose Cousins’ beautiful take on Corey Hart’s “Never Surrender”, which helped me realize what a great song it is.

    Thanks, Doug and everybody….and yes, I do know why I’d listen to Zep backwards.

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