Song by Song

S2 E2 Dolly Parton: I Will Always Love You

Dolly breaks ties with the hottest country TV star and writes a simple tune that expresses her feelings for her now riled ex-partner. The song has a lifecycle unmatched by any other song. Originally released by Dolly in 1974 on the album titled “I Will Always Love You” she wrote the track in 1973 for her one-time partner and mentor Porter Wagoner, from whom she was separating professionally at the time. She recorded it on June 13, 1973. This first version reached number one on the Billboard Hot Country Singles Chart becoming one of the best selling singles of 1974. Around the time the song reached number one on the country charts, Elvis Presley indicated that he wanted to cover the song. However, Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker, told her that it was standard procedure for the songwriter to sign over half of the publishing rights to any song Elvis recorded. Ms. Parton declined and that decision is credited with helping to make her many millions of dollars in royalties from the song over the years and recognized as a savvy, smart business woman. She later re-recorded the song in 1982, when it was included on the soundtrack of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Author Curtis W. Ellison stated that the song "speaks about the breakup of a relationship between a man and a woman that does not descend into unremitting domestic turmoil, but instead envisions parting with respect -- because of the initiative of the woman. After being re-released in 1982, the track once again peaked at number one on Hot Country Songs, making Ms. Parton the first artist ever to earn a number one record twice with the same song. Whitney Houston recorded a version of the song for the 1992 film The Bodyguard and is the best selling single of all time by a female artist. The single spent 14 weeks at the top of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, which at the time was a record. The single became Houston's longest run at number one, smashing her previous record, which was three weeks with 1986's, "Greatest Love of All." It is also the longest running number one single from a soundtrack album. "I Will Always Love You", was voted the No. 1 song on CMT 100 Greatest Love Songs of Country Music (2004) and is currently certified with a Six Million-Air award, meaning it has been played on radio and television over six million times.