Dolly wrote “I Will Always Love You” in 1973 and big old bad Elvis loved the song so much (duh) he wanted to record a version of it. BUT part of that agreement included Dolly having to sign over her publishing rights on the song which she refused to do, so he never recorded it and she was told by many this was a very poor business decision. Well the song went on the make millions for her over the decades through royalties and when Whitney Houston wanted to cover it for The Bodyguard, Dolly gladly gifted the song over to her, because she knew Whitney would do it justice. It’s the only song in country music that has hit #1 two times by the same artist (1974, 1982) and then covered by a pop singer to hit #1 again twenty years later.
I really think Dolly is exemplary in trusting her gut and creative senses, which is something all artists can admire and hope to be as steadfast in doing. She rose to the top of an industry that was not friendly towards women, and was unapologetically the best version of herself. The song, though billed as a romantic love song, is actually about her decision to leave her performing and business partner, Porter Wagoner and pursue her own career. So the greatest love song of all time is actually about a woman deciding to chase her own dreams. It’s a love song to herself. Okay thank you goodnight, long live the Queen of Country Music!
Ben Jaffe is the Creative Director of the Preservation Hall, where he plays the tuba and upright bass in the band his parents founded. Watch him celebrate the musical scene in New Orleans and exemplify how jazz beats through the heart of the city.