Song of the Day #4,136: ‘Down From Dover’ – Dolly Parton

Our next song from the upcoming Dolly Parton anthology series Heartstrings is ‘Down From Dover,’ which first appeared on the 1970 album The Fairest of Them All.

While the album performed well both commercially and critically, this song proved controversial. It tells the story of an unwed pregnant waiting in vain for the father of her baby to return to her from Dover. Things don’t end well.

The song didn’t get a radio release because of its subject matter. Dolly deserves a lot of credit for writing and recording this song at such a young age, despite her management’s warnings that it would not be a smart career move.

I know this dress I’m wearing doesn’t hide the secret
I have tried concealing
When he left he promised me that he’d be back
By the time it was revealing
The sun behind a cloud just casts the crawling shadow
Over the fields of clover
And time is running out for me I wish
That he would hurry down from Dover

He’s been gone so long
When he left the snow was deep upon the ground
And I have seen a spring and summer pass
And now the leaves are turning brown
And any time a tiny face will show itself
Because waiting’s almost over
But I won’t have a name to give
It if he doesn’t hurry down from Dover
From Dover, from Dover

My folks weren’t understanding when they found out
They sent me from the home place
My daddy said if folks found out
He’d be ashamed to ever show his face
My mamma said I was a fool
And she did not believe it when I told her
That everything would be all right
Because soon he would be coming down from Dover

I found a place to stay out
On a farm takin’ care of that old lady
She never asked me nuthin’
So I never talked to her about my baby
I sent a message to my mom
With a name and address of Ms. ol’ Grover
And to make sure he got that information
When he came down from Dover

I loved him more than anything
And I could not refuse him when he needed me
He was the only one I’d loved
And I just can’t believe that he was using me
He couldn’t leave me here like this
I know it can’t be so, it can’t be over
He wouldn’t make me go through this alone
Oh he’ll be coming down from Dover

My body aches the time is here
It’s lonely in this place where I’m lying
Our baby has been born but something’s wrong
It’s much too still I hear no crying
I guess in some strange way she knew
She’d never have a father’s arms to hold her
And dying was her way of telling me
He wasn’t coming down from Dover

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,136: ‘Down From Dover’ – Dolly Parton

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    Such a sad song! Much respect to Dolly for recording it.

    Looks like she left the verse about living on the farm out of the recording though. I wonder if there is a version that includes it? I think the farm would be something worth showing on the tv show.

    • Clay says:

      She added that verse when she re-recorded the song 30 years later for another album. I bet you’re right and they will include that plot point in the show.

  2. Peg says:

    Sad song indeed 😢

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