A Classic Is Released

It still spawns the most modern of covers.

September 2023

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A Classic Is Released

Photo: Courtesy Sony Music Archives

In 1973, Dolly Parton released a song—named for a young fan and based loosely on a bank teller who had a crush on Parton’s husband—that would become the second of her 25 singles to reach the top spot on the country charts. The track, “Jolene,” has since been covered across genres by more than 30 professional artists, including the White Stripes, Olivia Newton-John, and Lil Nas X. In November 2022, another “Jolene” cover came out—from Holly+, an artificial intelligence–powered entity created by Holly Herndon, DMA ’19, who completed her thesis on vocal intellectual property and AI at Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics. She released Holly+, a neural network trained on her voice and able to generate new audio files, in 2021 as an experiment, offering others the chance to use her “digital twin,” co-own any art produced with it, and share in the resulting profits under a distributed ownership model. “I thought it would be fun to release a song spawned by @hollyplus_,” Herndon tweeted when she released the AI cover of “Jolene.” “Being from East Tennessee, @DollyParton music is everything!”

Rebecca Beyer is a Boston-area journalist. Email her at stanford.magazine@stanford.edu.

Vintage 1973 Collection

Stanford is 50! It turns out we’re not the only one. Walk with us down memory lane as we sample some of the wonders and horrors of the 1973–74 academic year on the Farm, and in the world around.

Start the Presses

Were Golden

89 Rodins Find a New Home

A Godfather Delivers a Ransom Payment

A Splashy Debut

The Winds of Freedom

SLE Club

‘Until the Birds Took Over the Singing’

The Poet and the Coup

Steps Toward Saving Salamanders Are Set in Motion

A Sequel for Supersonic Flight?

The First Stanford Astronaut Returns from Space

The End of the Nursing Education Era

Keepers of the Flame

50 Years After the Stanford Murders, Three of Four Families Have Answers

A Classic Is Released

A Young Lawyer Wins an Educational Equity Case

Joining the Force


The Axe Is Stolen One Last Time

Fit to Be Tried

For Commencement Speaker, a Watergate Special Prosecutor

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