Compared to Dolly Parton wanting to violently sling rocks at her ex's new bride ("I Don't Want to Throw Rice") or her decision to kill off the little girl in "Letters to Heaven," "The Bargain Store's" line that promises potential lovers that they can "easily afford the price" seems tame.
Country DJs felt differently in 1975, with numerous radio stations refusing to play an innocent-enough song that's clearly about a trampled heart that's not beyond repair.
"When I wrote 'The Bargain Store,' I swear on my life that I was never thinking about love in any vulgar way," she wrote in the book Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics (as quoted by Southern Living). "Somehow, this lyric is a dirty thing to a man. But I never saw it that way. Every man I know thinks it's dirty."
Parton goes on to clarify the meaning of her fifth No. 1 country hit and a Top 40 crossover single.
"All I was thinking of was the heart: 'If you don't mind the merchandise is slightly used, with a little mending it can be good as new,'" she added. "I was saying that you'll be surprised at how good this broken heart is. Just take it. You'll never be sorry that you did. The words just meant that I've had relationships: I've been through stuff; I'm not new at this."
It's the title track from Parton's 15th studio album. Only two of the 10 songs on The Bargain Store were not written by Parton: Porter Wagoner's "On My Mind Again" and Merle Haggard's "You'll Always Be Special to Me." Haggard hat-tipped Parton by recording one of her originals off The Bargain Store, "Kentucky Gambler," for his 1975 album Keep Movin' On.
The RCA Victor release was the final Parton album co-produced by fellow songwriter Bob Ferguson ("The Carroll County Accident").