Dolly Parton Speaks on First Time Hearing Whitney Houston Sing ‘I Will Always Love You’

by Suzanne Halliburton

Dolly Parton is like all of us. When she first heard Whitney Houston’s rendition of “I Will Always Love You,” she admitted she felt overwhelmed with the exuberance of the song.

Parton wrote the song. She performed it, too. She created it back in 1974 to say an emotional good bye to Porter Wagoner.

Parton gave it new life in 1982, when the song was included in the sound track for “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.”

Both times, Parton’s version of the song hit No. 1 on the country charts. Chubby Checker was the only other artist who hit the top of the charts with the release, then another release of the same song. He did in 1960 and 1962 with “The Twist.”

Then came Houston’s powerful reimagining of “I Will Always Love You.” It was the theme song of “The Bodyguard.” Houston sang of her love for the character played by Kevin Costner.

Parton appeared on Monday’s edition of “At Home With Apple Music” hosted by ZaneLowe. She talked about how she felt when she first heard Houston sing her song.

“With Whitney, when I first heard her sing it,” Parton said. “I was so overwhelmed, so emotional about how she did it. But also the fact, it was my song. So I feel it from different places.

“The fact it was my song and what I was feeling with me, then how well done, my little song could be all that. It humbles you really. So yes, it really has a big effect on you.”

Dolly Parton Talks of Learning Houston’s Version Hit 1 Billion Views

Last month, Houston’s version of Parton’s song surpassed 1 billion views on YouTube. Parton talked of the pride she felt in having a part of such an achievement.

It was the first solo song released in the 1990s to hit 1 billion. The others were performed by groups. Guns N’ Roses’ did it with “November Rain.” Nirvana crossed 1 billion with “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” The Cranberries’ achieved it with “Zombie.”

“That little song. When I wrote it, it did come from a very serious place in my heart about a thing going on at the time. But I had no idea. When I wrote it … I thought it was a good song. You never know when it’s going to hit or we’d all be rich. All songwriters if you knew.

“I didn’t know that about the billion people hearing it til the other day when I was watching the news,” Parton said. “They were playing it. And I, of course, ran in there to see why they were playing it. And they said ‘coming up later, we have some information.’

“It always makes me feel so proud,” Parton said. “If you have a kid, and it’s done so well, it makes you proud of them. (I’m like) your mama. I just take pride in my little song that’s done so well.”