This paper analyzes the song “Coat of Many Colors” written by and sung by Dolly Parton. Born on January 19, 1946 the fourth child of 12 to a farmer and a stay at home mother. Given this time period and her father’s profession, her family grew up “dirt poor” (Zahn, ?) on a farm and experienced the struggles faced by countless others during this era. Motivated by an experience in her youth, she wrote a song about when her mother stitched together a coat for her to wear from pieces of rags they had been given and the other kids laughing at her. As a result, of this experience Parton’s purpose is to change her audiences’ mindset to realize that “One is only poor, only if they choose to be” (50-51) and can change the perception of what evokes a sense of richness. In this song, she is effective in using authority, goodwill and common ground, several categories of ethos, to evoke a connection with her listeners that may have had a similar experience.
With regards to this song, Parton invented or created her authority in her song in her first verse. With this line, “Back to the seasons of my youth” (Parton 3) she is telling her audience that this is a song about an event that happened in her youth. When analyzing ethos, authority is the first of the several categories of ethos consists of two types inherent “present in the minds of the audience before the argument begins” and invented or created “unknown to their audience at first”. (Heasley et al. 102). Thus, Parton was