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Dolly Parton adds pandemic hero to list of accomplishments

GLASTONBURY, ENGLAND - JUNE 29: Dolly Parton performs on the Pyramid Stage during Day 3 of the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm on June 29, 2014 in Glastonbury, England. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

BOSTON (AP) — Dolly Parton is being celebrated in song — a rewritten version of her own “Jolene” — for her contribution to an experimental coronavirus vaccine.

Northeastern University associate English professor Ryan Cordell 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 gift to Nashville’s Vanderbilt University helped researchers develop Moderna’s experimental coronavirus vaccine, announced this week.

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Cordell grew up with Parton’s music, thanks to his parents and grandparents, and he called Parton’s appearance at the 2019 Newport Folk Festival as one of his “favorite musical memories.”

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

The positive reaction to his video from doctors, nurses and other medical professionals is particularly gratifying, he said.

“And that’s really amazing because those folks are under so much pressure and stress, and especially right now as hospitals are getting overwhelmed,” Cordell said. “And so if they watched the video, and it made them happy for a minute, that’s all I need.”

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