Behind the Song: I Will Always Love You

I Will Always Love You was a signature song for Whitney Houston, after she performed the song in her movie, The Bodyguard.

Dolly Parton wrote the song as her partnership with Porter Wagoner ended
Dolly Parton wrote the song as her partnership with Porter Wagoner ended

However, the song was written by another big known star, Dolly Parton.  This would become the biggest song of her career as both a performer and songwriter.

The song was the second single from Parton’s album, Jolene, and released on June 6, 1974.

Parton wrote the song for Porter Wagoner.  The two had a professional singing partnership that was ending when she wrote the song.

The song was sung in the 1974 Martin Scorsese film Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.

In 1975, Linda Rondstadt released the song.

Parton performed the song for her movie The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.   This version hit #1 on the Country Charts.

Elvis Presley expressed interest in the song, but the deal fell through when Colonel Parker insisted on taking half of the publishing rights.bodyguard soundtrack

Parton recorded the song a third time in the 1990s as a duet with Vince Gill.  The song became a hit for a third time by Parton {in three different decades} and made the top 10.

In 1992, Houston was filming The Bodyguard.  A different single had been chosen, but when discovered it was to be in another movie to soon be released, a change was required.  Kevin Costner provided a recording of I Will Always Love You.

The song is heard in the background of The Bodyguard, while Houston and Costner are dancing, and is sung by John Doe.

Costner and Houston in The Bodyguard
Costner and Houston in The Bodyguard

Clive Davis did not believe this song was a good vehicle for Houston in the beginning.  The song was re-arranged into an R&B ballad for Houston.  She actually recorded two versions, one for the movie and another for the soundtrack album.  Her version became a massive success and the soundtrack for The Bodyguard became the bestselling soundtrack of all time.  The song won her a Grammy Award for Record of the Year and Best {Female} Pop Vocal Performance of the year in 1994. She released an album I Will Always Love You .

After Houston released the song, Parton admitted in an interview with the UK magazine Q, that she was “blown away.”  She said: “The way she took that simple song of mine and made it such a mighty thing, it almost became her song. Some writers say, ‘Ooh, I hate the way they’ve done that to my song or that version wasn’t what I had in mind.’ I just think it’s wonderful that people can take a song and do it so many different ways.”

When Houston died in 2012, Parton told Billboard Magazine, “I will always be grateful and in awe of the wonderful performance she did on my song, and I can truly say from the bottom of my heart, ‘Whitney, I will always love you. You will be missed.'”

I Will Always Love You became Whitney Houston signature song
I Will Always Love You became Whitney Houston signature song

I Will Always Love You once again made the Top 10 following Houston’s death.  Jennifer Hudson and Beyonce both performed the song as a tribute to Whitney Houston following her untimely death.

I Will Always Love You was played at Houston’s funeral, as her casket was removed from the church.

The song has become the bestselling single of all time.  The sentiment still remains prevalent today for women saying goodbye to a relationship or partnership that has ended.

In 2007, shortly before his death, Parton serenaded Porter Wagoner at the Grand Old Opry.

Is there someone you would sing this song to?