Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I Will Always Love You - Dolly Parton & Whitney Houston

SONG I Will Always Love You

WRITTEN BY Dolly Parton

PERFORMED BY Dolly Parton, Whitney Houston

APPEARS ON Dolly Parton: Jolene (1974); Whitney Houston: The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album (1992)

This will probably come as a surprise to many people who know me, but I love Dolly Parton; she's always been one of the better songwriters in Nashville, her songs are usually about the common people in the hills and how they survive, and she has, like Iris DeMent, one of those old-soul, sound-of-the-hills voices that sends shivers up my spine. And "I Will Always Love You" is my second favorite song of hers, right after "Coat of Many Colors". She richly deserves the title of the Queen of Country Music.

This song, written in 1973, is about her professional break-up with Country legend Porter Wagoner, who discovered her and served as her mentor in the tough music world of Nashville. She was an integral part of Wagoner's show and assumed the status of partner in the enterprise, but it was time for her to move off on her own. It was a bittersweet parting; it was a sad time for both Dolly and Porter, but both agreed it was time for her to pursue a solo career. The lyrics express the nature of the parting, but couched in the words of a star-crossed love song. Not that Parton and Wagoner were lovers; Dolly was and still is happily married to Carl Thomas Dean. But the relationship was close and the parting was a sad one

If I should stay
Well I would only be in your way
And so I'll go, and yet I know
That I'll think of you each step of my way

And I will always love you
I will always love you

Bittersweet memories
That's all I have and all I'm taking with me
Good-bye, oh please don't cry
Cause we both know that I'm not what you need

But I will always love you
I will always love you

And I hope life will treat you kind
And I hope that you have all
That you ever dreamed of
Oh I do wish you joy and I wish you happiness
But above all of this, I wish you love
I love you, I will always love you

I, I will always, always love you
I will always love you
I will always love you
I will always love you
The best way to listen to Dolly sing this is live; I don't know when this video was made, but judging by her appearance here I'd say sometime in the mid to late '90s.

In 1992 Whitney Houston co-starred with Kevin Costner in the movie The Bodyguard, about a former Secret Service guard turned private bodyguard assigned to guard a superstar singer from a stalker. The movie didn't really amount to much, but Houston's singing "I Will Always Love You" broke records and sold 12 million copies worldwide, at a time when her career had reached a low point and she needed a boost. Originally she was slated to sing Jimmy Ruffin's "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted", but the song was already being used in Fried Green Tomatoes, so Costner suggested Dolly Parton's song as an alternative. The rest is history.

I'm more partial to Dolly Parton's version than Whitney Houston's, but then I like Tim Hardin's version of his song "Reason to Believe" over Rod Stewart's; I just have this personal quirk of liking the original over the cover in most cases. That said, Whitney Houston's version is still fantastic. The suits at Arista Records didn't like the a capella intro, but both Houston and Costner insisted that it stay, and they were right; it adds an extra sense of drama to the song, fitting with the movie.

In the aftermath of Houston's hiuge hit with the song, rumors started circulating that there was a feud between Parton and Houston over the latter's success with the former's song. Both ladies went on record denying the rumors, and Parton has claimed that Whitney Houston made her rich with that success, so she has no complaints.

In any event, here's the official video of Whitney Houston's version of the song, complete with scenes from the movie. Enjoy!


  1. What a treat, Roy. I have to say, I love both singers.

  2. Roy, Porter Waggoner's 2007 valedictory album (Wagonmaster) is quite good. Recorded when he was 80!

  3. Roy,
    You've posted both of the most popular versions of Dolly's tune... now listen to the most BEAUTIFUL version - done with Dolly's blessing - in Italian by Katherine Jenkins:
    Hope you enjoy!
    Dan in NC

  4. What a wonderful song! All versions are beautiful. Today we remember Whitney Houston and her gorgeous voice!

  5. that was great. Music soothes us all. Thanks