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Dolly Parton on Playing “I Will Always Love You” for Porter Wagoner First Time

Makin’ a grown man cry. Many are familiar with the story behind Dolly Parton’s iconic song “I Will Always Love You,” penned as she left the Porter Wagoner Show in 1974 to embark on a solo career. She joined the show in 1967, but a public breakup ensued with Porter, who filed a lawsuit against her. Dolly ended up owing money to her former boss for three years after leaving.

In 1979, Porter formally filed a $3 million lawsuit against Dolly, citing breach of contract. The case was eventually settled out of court. Though they later reconciled, their relationship was strained for quite some time.

In a recent snippet for an interview with CBS Mornings, Dolly recalled playing the song for Porter. He was visibly emotional and asked if he could produce the song, praising it as her best work and allowing her to leave if he could have that one last opportunity:

“He started crying. And he said, ‘That’s the best song you ever wrote, and if you let me produce it, you can go.'”

She agreed, and the rest is history. Porter might have had lingering hard feelings, considering he still sued Dolly, but he clearly recognized the song’s potential as a timeless hit and country standard.

Even Elvis Presley wanted to record “I Will Always Love You,” but his manager demanded all the publishing rights, which Dolly refused to give up. She has called it the heartbreak of her life but knew she couldn’t agree to that deal.

Reflecting on moving on from Porter and seeking stardom, Dolly spoke candidly in the 2003 movie “Dolly Parton: Platinum Blonde”:

“I wanted to have big-time management. I wanted to get in movies by that time. I wanted to do everything that a body could do as an entertainer. I wanted to be worldwide. I thought, well, if I’m gonna be a star, why not be a big star?”

Dolly’s decision was influenced by her modest $60,000 salary with Porter. Growing up poor in East Tennessee, the amount was significant for a young woman back then. However, Porter rarely gave her raises, even though she became the star of the show quickly. She felt it was unfair that Porter made so much money while she didn’t see any extra income:

“I started working for Porter for $60,000 a year. That was more money than I’d ever seen or heard tale of. But Porter didn’t raise me very much, which was one of the reasons I had to go. He was making all the big money too because of me.”

To dissuade her from leaving, Porter attempted to convince Dolly that RCA, her label at the time, would drop her if she left his show. However, this was not true. Dolly took matters into her own hands and flew to New York from Nashville to meet with key RCA executives:

“Porter had tried to convince me, ‘They’re gonna drop you as soon as you leave the show, they’re not gonna want you at RCA.’ So before I left Porter’s show, I flew to New York, made appointments with RCA heads, and told them my plans to go solo. They were very excited and supported me.”

Clearly, Dolly made the right call. Her story is an ever-inspiring tale of pursuing one’s dreams and knowing one’s worth—a lesson that applies to anyone in any career.

And here’s one of the favorite live performances of “I Will Always Love You”:
Watch Here

Source: CBS Mornings, Dolly Parton: Platinum Blonde, YouTube