Wait, ‘I Will Always Love You’ was written about what?

It wasn’t the breakup you were imagining

Country singer Dolly Parton and her collaborator Porter Wagoner perform onstage in circa 1967.
Country singer Dolly Parton and her collaborator Porter Wagoner perform onstage in circa 1967.

Arguably one of the most famous of love songs, “I Will Always Love You” doesn’t have the back story you might have imagined it did.

Plenty of people know the song by Whitney Houston (play it below), who recorded a version for the movie “The Bodyguard.”

For those who aren’t familiar, the song was first written and recorded in 1974 by Dolly Parton, who is known for the popular “Jolene,” among handfuls of other hits over the years.

What most people probably aren’t aware of, is what the song was actually written about.

Parton was in a working relationship with singer Porter Wagoner until 1973. For five years, she starred alongside him on his TV show, “The Porter Wagoner Show,” and with great success.

When Parton decided to go, she and Wagoner butted heads over whether it was the right decision.

“There was a lot of grief and heartache there, and he just wasn’t listening to my reasoning for my going,” Parton told CMT in a 2011 interview. “I thought, ‘Well, why don’t you do what you do best? Why don’t you just write this song?’”


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