Dolly Parton adds pandemic hero to list of accomplishments

Dolly Parton is being celebrated in song — a rewritten version of her own Jolene — for her contribution to an experimental coronavirus vaccine.

Music icon being celebrated in song for her contribution to an experimental COVID-19 vaccine

A parody of Dolly Parton's song Jolene — titled Vaccine — is gaining traction as a tribute to the star. The video, created by Northeastern University associate English professor Ryan Cordell, was posted to Twitter following Parton's $1-million US donation to researchers working on an experimental coronavirus vaccine. (REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton)

Dolly Parton is being celebrated in song — a rewritten version of her own Jolene — for her contribution to an experimental coronavirus vaccine.

Ryan Cordell, associate English professor at Northeastern University in Boston, posted a video on Twitter of himself performing a tweaked version of Parton's signature song, renamed Vaccine, that has drawn tens of thousands of views.

The lyrics, "Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine / I'm begging of you, please go in my arm / Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine, vaccine / Please just keep me safe from COVID harm," were written by linguist and author Gretchen McCulloch, who posted them online and invited people to record them.

"I love that song. I love Dolly Parton. And I don't know — I was inspired," Cordell told The Boston Globe on Tuesday. "So I went and grabbed my guitar."

Parton's $1-million US gift to Nashville's Vanderbilt University Medical Center for COVID-19 research went, in part, toward the development of Moderna's experimental coronavirus vaccine, announced this week.

The singer's name appeared among other sponsors in a preliminary report on the vaccine.

Cordell grew up with Parton's music, thanks to his parents and grandparents.

"So I was just thrilled to see this news that she had contributed to COVID vaccine research — I thought that was amazing," he said.

Cordell called the positive reaction to his video from doctors, nurses and other medical professionals particularly gratifying.

"That's really amazing because those folks are under so much pressure and stress, and especially right now as hospitals are getting overwhelmed," he said.

"So if they watched the video, and it made them happy for a minute, that's all I need."


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?