Boston Globe, November 2020
After news came to light that beloved singer Dolly Parton had made a significant contribution to Moderna’s coronavirus research, the internet naturally went wild with adoring fans praising her latest charitable endeavor.
The Cambridge-based drugmaker announced Monday that its experimental vaccine had proven highly effective at preventing infections — and it wasn’t long before people began creatively playing around with Parton’s classic “Jolene” in honor of her part in making a potential treatment possible.
Linguist Gretchen McCulloch went a step further than most: she wrote out a whole new set of lyrics, designed to be sung to the tune of the classic. McCulloch, author of “Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language,” invited anyone who wanted to “actually record this” to be her guest.
Ryan Cordell, an associate professor of English at Northeastern University, quickly took her up on the offer.