On This Day: Dolly Parton Releases ‘I Will Always Love You’ in 1974

by Katie Maloney

Forty-seven years ago this month, country music legend Dolly Parton released her hit song, “I Will Always Love You.”

If you haven’t sung this song while crying in your car after a break-up, are you even living? Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” is about recognizing when it’s time to leave a relationship, no matter how much you may love the person. And for Dolly, the song wasn’t about struggling with the end of a romantic relationship. Instead, she wrote the song about leaving her long-time friend and co-star Porter Wagoner and his show, The Porter Wagoner Show. Dolly co-hosted the show with Porter for seven years before leaving to pursue a solo music career.

“I Will Always Love You,” was both a parting gift to Porter and a way to process her own feelings about leaving. During an interview, Dolly Parton talked about sharing the song with Porter before she left. She had tried to talk to Porter about leaving several times but it always ended in arguments. So, she decided to do what she does best, she wrote a song.

“It’s saying, ‘Just because I’m going don’t mean I won’t love you. I appreciate you and I hope you do great and I appreciate everything you’ve done, but I’m out of here,'” said Dolly. “[That’s] basically what I was saying. And I took it in the next morning. I said, ‘Sit down, Porter. I’ve written this song, and I want you to hear it.’ So I did sing it. And he was crying. He said, ‘That’s the prettiest song I ever heard. And you can go, providing I get to produce that record.’ And he did, and the rest is history.”

During the song, she sings, “If I should stay, I would only be in your way. And so I’ll go, but I know I’ll think of you each step of the way. And I will always love you. I will always love you.”

Just a few months after its release, the song soared to the number on spot on the country music charts.

Dolly Parton’s I Will Always Love You

Kevin Costner Convinced Whitney Houston To Sing Dolly Parton’s Song For The Bodyguard

Whitney Houston recorded Dolly’s “I Will Always Love You” for the 1992 movie, The Bodyguard. Houston’s version exploded onto the top of the pop charts. The song spent 14 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, which at the time was a record. However, Houston almost didn’t record Dolly Parton’s song for the movie.

David Foster, the movie’s soundtrack producer, initially liked “What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted,” a midtempo track by Jimmy Ruffin. However, foster only liked the hook of the song. So, Kevin Costner played him “I Will Always Love You,” and suggested that Whitney Houston record that for the movie. Costner also suggested that Houston start the song a capella. Foster was not having that at first. He planned to add music behind Houston’s performance for the soundtrack. But after he heard Houston’s chilling a capella opening lines, he decided to keep the song like it was. So, basically, Kevin Costner is a musical genius?

During an interview, Dolly Parton talked about hearing Houston’s version of the song for the first time.

“I about had a fit,” said Dolly. “They started out with it a cappella, and I thought, “That sounds familiar — ‘If I should stay … ‘ And it didn’t hit me. It was just one of those things where [you think], ‘What is that?’’And, then all a sudden, when she started singing, ‘I will always love you,’ I just about wrecked the car,” Dolly said.

“The effect that it had on the whole world was amazing,” said Dolly. “It’s been one of the biggest songs ever.”

Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You,” sold over 4 million singles, won two Grammys, and is still considered one of the most iconic loves songs today.