Saturday, December 27, 2014

"I Will Always Love You" by Dolly Parton

Song#:  1120
Date:  07/31/1982
Debut:  87
Peak:  53
Weeks:  14
Genre:  Crossover Country, Soundtrack

Pop Bits:  Parton probably never imagined that her ode to splitting up with her singing partner Porter Wagoner would end up being her biggest hit as a songwriter. Written for her 1974 album "Jolene," the song was a #1 country hit upon release. It missed the pop chart, but that changed when Parton re-recorded the song for the movie musical "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas." The new version once again soared to the top of the country chart while almost reaching the Top 50 at pop (#17 AC). It also got Parton a Grammy nod for Best Country Vocal Performance, Female. That could have been the end to the story, but the song got selected for use in the 1992 film "The Bodyguard" and was recorded by the film's co-star Whitney Houston. The single became a major hit. It stayed at #1 for fourteen weeks, won a Grammy for Record of the Year, was the top chart single of the year, and became Houston's biggest career hit. Not bad for a little song that was just meant as a heartfelt goodbye.

ReduxReview:  I love both Parton versions, but I think this one from the movie edges out the original. It's more theatrical and emotional and Parton really knocks it out of the park surpassing her own original. And although I know that Houston's version is one of the ultimate diva singles in history, I have to say that I don't really care for it. Her version is just way over the top. I mean, it is an impressive performance, but when you compare it to Parton's personal heart-on-sleeve weeping take, it just doesn't compare. Plus, now we are assaulted by countless diva wannabes trying to capture Houston's volcanic eruption. I'm thrilled for Parton that her song became a mega-hit (and got her mega-millions), but for me, I will always love her version.

ReduxRating:  9/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) With the two Parton version hitting #1 on the country chart, she became the first artist to hit #1 on the chart twice with the same song.  2) Originally, Houston was scheduled to record "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" for "The Bodyguard." However, that song ended up being used in the film "Fried Green Tomatoes," so a different song was needed. Houston's co-star, Kevin Costner, suggested "I Will Always Love You." Houston and producer David Foster fashioned an R&B arrangement that began with an a cappella intro. The record company didn't like it, but Houston's version remained intact and became the diva's signature song.


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