The Cumberland Post

The Cumberland Post
My Backyard, Six Miles from the Cumberland River

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Whitney, Dolly, and Porter

My title today might suggest a heretofore unreported menage a trois, but what I'm really referring to is the song "I Will Always Love You," which ties these three unlikely people together.

This dramatic and popular song has been in the news quite a bit lately because it was arguably Whitney Houston's greatest hit.

Though the lyrics indicate that the breakup referred to is a romantic one, the song, written by Dolly Parton back in 1973, grew out of her business split with country singer Porter Wagoner who had given Dolly her start. When she was promoting her movie, "Best Little Whorehouse in Texas," Dolly told the LA Times that during the seven years she was part of his show, Porter was pretty much a male chauvinist pig, not that he was harassing her, but that he was strong willed and the absolute boss of the show and wouldn't tolerate any intervention on her part.

Later after they had reconciled, Porter said this: 

"Dolly had reached the point where she was ready to go out on her own," he says.  "That was something we both had worked toward.  But then, the lawyers got involved — and whenever that happens, they stir things up....

"We had it in writing that once she left, it was time for me to be paid for some of the things I'd done for her," he says. 
      Five years after Dolly left, Porter sued her.  He claimed payments had not been made.  Dolly later said she thought the payments had been made.  The two settled out of court the following year.  Time helped heal the wounds, and today they speak kindly about each other."

An album was released in 1980 which was part of their settlement. "Porter and Dolly" was the title and it included mostly unreleased tracks that the two performers had cut during the time she worked with Porter. That's the cover below. "I Will Always Love You" is not on this album.
"I Will Always Love You" was a #1 song when Dolly first released it in  1974 and also went to #1 when she put it on her "Best Little Whorehouse" album in 1982.

Whitney Houston's cover came out in 1994 and spent 14 weeks at #1 and garnered her the record of the year and best female pop vocal performance award.

If you're interested in learning several other things about this song that you might not know, check out this site. To whet your appetite, Saddam Hussein is involved in one of them.

Here's Dolly's version.


  1. Didn't she also record a duet of this one with Vince Gill? For some reason I'm thinkin' so.

  2. I'm not sure, Deb, but I'll check it out. I do know that Linda Rondstadt also had a hit with this sometime in the late '70s early '80s.

  3. That "Things Ya Didn't Know" site was interesting, especially for the included Ronstadt version of the tune. The embedded photos made me remember EXACTLY why I had the biggest crush on Linda back in the '70s.

    Apropos o' not much... my Best Man at my wedding to TSMP and I shared a house for the year before I married. One night we were getting drunk as skunks while listening to Linda and decided to CALL HER UP. I wish I would have recorded the conversations/exchanges between ourselves and the phone operators... they were classic. We weren't successful in our quest... and thank The Deity At Hand there were no inter-tubes back then.

  4. Buck, Linda R. was a very pretty girl in those days. But we saw her at the Ryman about six or seven years ago and she had put on a little weight. Make that a lot of weight. She could still belt out the songs though. I especially remember hearing her sing that Orbison tune, Blue Bayou that night.

    I'd like to hear that tape (if it existed) of your call to Linda R. You guys must have been soused. Your story also reminded me of something like it in my experience.

    In the early '60s when I taught at a college in KY, I had a colleague who told us a story (I think it was a true one) about calling up the famous writer William Faulkner. He said he'd actually done that in grad school after getting frustrated and then getting drunk over a paper he was trying to write about Faulkner. He said he actually got through and talked to him. He said Faulkner could tell he was drunk but was sympathetic, I guess because F was quite a drinker himself, even to the point of blackouts.

  5. Deb, You're right. Somebody has posted the Dolly-Gill version on you tube, but they misspelled his name as Vince Grill. Sounds a little like a special way of cooking a steak.

  6. Just searched on the Tube O' You and am listening to it as I type. A special way of cooking a Andy would say 'NYUK'.