Dolly Parton releases her 42nd album, Blue Smoke, on May 13, and one song on the track list might surprise you: a cover of Bon Jovi’s 1988 hit “Lay Your Hands on Me.”
“I always loved the song, but the first time I heard it — because I grew up in a Pentecostal church, where people believed in healing hands and laying your hands on someone — I just thought, “Wow, that would make a fantastic gospel song,” Parton tells EW.
Still, she knew the sexualized lyrics would need a bit of an overhaul. “You can’t take liberties with people’s song without running it by them, so I contacted Jon and Richie Sambora, who wrote the song together, and asked them, ‘I would love to do this as a gospel song, would y’all help me put that together?’ They were all for it, and everybody threw in their little ideas, and I threw in mine,” she says.
How did the guys feel about the final version? “They were excited about it. In fact, Richie was at one of my shows in Australia [in February]. He flipped out when I did it onstage in front of the audience. He had his manager videotape it on his little phone or whatever. They say he just played it over and over. That made me feel good,” Parton says. “And Jon wrote a real nice note that he loved the way it turned out.”
Check out Parton, 68, performing the song live below. For more from Dolly, read the Soundtrack of My Life feature in the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands today.