As Within So Without

Whitney Houston's Version of ‘I will Always Love you' Turns 30

Whitney Houston's Version of  'I will Always Love You' Turns 30 

I Will Always Love You was initially written and recorded in 1973 by Dolly Parton, who conceived it as a tribute and farewell to her early mentor and business partner Porter Wagoner.

Dolly and Wagner Singing together

Parton's tender and sweet country girl version was a number-one hit on the US Hot Country Songs chart. Almost every celebrity wanted to record the song, including The King of Rock, Elvis! Which Dolly said was the most complex person to turn down. Dolly didn't like the stipulations Elvis's manager needed, especially giving up half the songwriting credits. 

Elvis and his manager

"I was desperate for Elvis to sing my song, and I'd told everyone he would sing it, but I couldn't let that happen. It's my song, my publishing rights. It broke my heart, but I had to turn him down."


Dolly spent the whole night crying, but she knew it was the right thing to do. She "followed her heart." Fast forward years later, in November 1992, Whitney Houston recorded ' I Will Always Love You for the movie, Bodyguard's soundtrack, in which Whitney starred, and Dolly was blown away by how Whitney Houston transformed the song into a worldwide power ballad. Recalling the first time she heard Houston's cover, Parton said in 2020: "It was one of the most overwhelming feelings I have ever had to hear it done so well, beautiful, and big. I had no idea I'd written a song that could be that important… She just took it and made it much more than it would ever have been." 

Whitney Houston Body Guard

 As we all know, the song would become a worldwide sensation and  Whitney had a voice every singer wanted and had to compete with. Top vocal coach Yvie Burnett is quoted as saying: "Whitney starts the song holding back all her vocal abilities and relying on raw emotion, then when the music kicks in, she maintains that ethereal vocal quality, hitting the higher notes perfectly while staying quiet and holding back her vocal strength." She believes this "incredible build-up" makes Houston's subsequent vocal fireworks at the song's climax even more moving. "Either she is an incredible actress," Burnett adds, "or she has experienced these feelings in real life. She is telling us her story".


Everyone around the world felt that story and still do! 'I Will Always Love You' remains Houston's best-selling single today. 


The Bodyguard album

According to Forbes, Whitney's song version made Parton $10 million in royalties. In an interview with Andy Cohen on Bravo's Watch What Happens Live, Parton revealed that she had Houston in mind when deciding how to spend those earnings. Dolly Parton used the royalties to honor the late singer in the best way.

"I bought my big office complex down in Nashville. I bought a property in the Black area of town, and it was mostly just Black families and people that lived there," said Parton. "And it was off the beaten path from 16th Avenue. And I thought, 'Well, I am going to buy this place, the whole strip mall.' And thought, 'This is the perfect place for me to be,' considering it was Whitney." 

"So I just thought this was great; I'm just going to be down here with her people, who are my people as well," Parton added. "And I love that I spent that money on a complex. And I think, 'this is the house that Whitney built.'"

Whitney and Dolly