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"I Will Always Love You" is a song written by American singer-songwriter Dolly Parton in 1973, who first released the song as a single in 1974. American singer Whitney Houston's (1992) version of the song became one of the best-selling singles of all time.

Dolly Parton version

Dolly Parton wrote the song in 1973 and it was released a year later, having been produced by Bob Ferguson. She has told numerous interviewers over the years that she wrote it for her one-time partner and mentor Porter Wagoner, with whom she was having a business splitting at the time. Recorded on June 17, 1973 in RCA's Studio "B" in Nashvillemarker, the song was included on Parton's album Jolene, and was released as a follow-up single, after the country chart-topping success of the title track, in April 1974. The single reached number 1 on the Billboard' Hot Country Songs a month later, but had just modest success on the pop charts. The lyrics express a bittersweet and poignant ode to an ex-lover, and are delivered with Parton's distinctive twang.

Parton re-recorded the song in 1982 to include it on the soundtrack of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, the film version of the Broadway musical of the same name. Her 1982 version also reached number 1 on the U.S. Hot Country Songs, marking the first time the same song reached number 1 on the country charts twice by the same artist. The 1982 version also saw limited crossover pop success, reaching number 53 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 17 on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks.

Parton had success with the song again in 1995 in a duet with Vince Gill. This time the song peaked at number 15 in December of that year, making it the third time the song was a hit for Parton, albeit in duet form this time. In 2003, CMT ranked it number 16 on their 100 Greatest Songs in Country Music. A year later, CMT ranked it number 1 on their 100 Greatest Country Love Songs.

The most recent release of the song appears on Parton's 2008 album Backwoods Barbie, which features a live version - an exclusive iTunes bonus track.

In the mid-1970s, Elvis Presley had expressed interested in recording the song, but Parton refused to share writing credits (as was the case with many songs Presley performed) with him, and so he ultimately did not cover the song.


Chart (1974) Peak

Canadian RPM Country Tracks 4
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs 1
Chart (1982) Peak

Canadian RPM Top Singles 8
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 53
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs 1
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks 17
Chart (1995) Peak

Canadian RPM Country Tracks 22
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs 15

Whitney Houston version

In 1992, singer Whitney Houston recorded the song for the soundtrack to The Bodyguard, her film debut. Houston was originally to record Jimmy Ruffin's "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" as the lead single from The Bodyguard. However, when it was discovered the song was to be used for Fried Green Tomatoes, Houston requested a different song and her co-star Kevin Costner brought her Linda Ronstadt's 1975 version of "I Will Always Love You" from her album Prisoner in Disguise. Houston re-arranged the song as a soul ballad. Her record company did not feel a song with an a cappella introduction would be as successful; however, Houston and Costner insisted to maintain an a cappella intro.

Houston's version was a massive worldwide success, selling over 12 million copies worldwide. It became a regular on countdown lists: appearing at number 8 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the Past 25 Years; number 4 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s and number 1 on VH1's 100 Greatest Love Songs. The song also lists at number 68 on Billboard's Greatest Songs of all time.

Music video

The single's music video, credited to Alan Smithee, begins with the performance of the song Houston gives at the end of The Bodyguard. The video then cuts to Houston in a dark blue suit sitting in an empty theater with the spotlight shining on her, singing of her love. The video is intercut with scenes from The Bodyguard and gives the viewer the experience of reliving the moments with the singer.

Chart performance

The single spent fourteen weeks at the top of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, which at the time was a record. The single became Houston's longest run at number 1, beating her previous record of three weeks with 1986's, "Greatest Love of All." It is also the longest running number 1 single from a soundtrack album.

The single debuted at number 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became Houston's tenth number 1 hit a mere two weeks later. It also dominated various other Billboard charts, spending fourteen weeks at the top of Billboard Hot 100 Single Sales (the most for a solo female artist & later tied by Mariah Carey's We Belong Together), and eleven weeks at number 1 on its Hot 100 Airplay. The song also stayed at number 1 for five weeks on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks and for eleven weeks on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs becoming the longest running number 1 on the R&B charts at the time, and remained in the top 40 for twenty-four weeks. It became Arista Records' biggest hit. The song was number 1 on the Hot 100, Adult Contemporary, and R&B chart simulateously for a record five weeks.

Houston's single sold approximately 400,000 copies in its second week of release, making it the best-selling song in a single week (taking the record from Bryan Adams' " I Do It for You"). It broke its own record in the following three weeks, peaking at 632,000 copies in the week ending December 19, 1992 (the week it broke its own record for most copies sold in a single week for any song). It was certified 4xPlatinum in the U.S. for shipments of over 4 million copies. and another six million worldwide, making it the third best-selling single in the world. It remains the biggest selling single by a female artist and the biggest selling non-charity single.

Houston's single became a massive international success, hitting number 1 in the United Kingdom for ten weeks, and Australia for ten weeks. It also hit pole position in Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, Germany, France, Denmark, Netherlands, and New Zealand. It is the only single to have ever topped both the U.S. and Australian charts for at least ten weeks.

The song stayed at number 1 in the United States throughout January and February in 1993, making it the first time Billboard didn't rank a new number one single until March of the new year. Houston's "I Will Always Love You" was also the year-end single of 1993 in the U.S. Similarly, in the UK, Houston's version was ranked the number 1 single of 1992, and then made the countdown again in 1993 where it was ranked number 9, marking the first time any artist or group had the same single ranked in the top 10 of the year-end review two years in a row. Houston's soundtrack album for The Bodyguard was number 1 for twenty weeks, and it became the best-selling soundtrack of all time. The album has been certified diamond in the U.S. for sales of over 17 million, and has sold 42 million copies total worldwide to date.


Formats and track listings

CD single
  1. "I Will Always Love You" – 4:31
  2. "Jesus Loves Me" – 5:11

CD maxi-single
  1. "I Will Always Love You" – 4:31
  2. "Jesus Loves Me" – 5:11
  3. "Do You Hear What I Hear?" - 3:31

CD maxi - 1999 remixes
  • "I Will Always Love You" (Hex Hector Radio Edit) - 4:50
  • "I Will Always Love You" (Hex Hector 12" Club Mix) - 9:51


Country Certification Date Sales certified
Austria Gold March 1, 1993 15,000
France Gold 1993 250,000
Germany Platinum 1993 300,000
Netherlands Platinum 1992 60,000
Sweden Platinum March 26, 1993 20,000
UK 2 x Platinum January 1, 1993 1,300,000
U.S. 4 x Platinum January 12, 1993 4,000,000


Chart (1992) Peak
Australian Singles Chart 1
Austrian Singles Chart 1
Belgian Singles Chart 1
Canadian Singles Chart 1
Dutch Singles Chart 1
European Singles Chart 1
French Singles Chart 1
German Singles Chart 1
Irish Singles Chart 1
Italian Singles Chart 1
Japanese Singles Chart 1
New Zealand Singles Chart 1
Norwegian Singles Chart 1
Swedish Singles Chart 1
Swiss Singles Chart 1
UK Singles Chart 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 1
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks 1
U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs 1


After Whitney Houston's cover of the song became a hit, the tabloid press began reporting on a 'feud' between the two performers, stemming from Parton's allegedly reneging on an agreement that she would not perform the song for a number of months while Houston's version was on the charts, so as not to compete with the more recent cover. However, both Houston and Parton have dispelled any rumors, speaking glowingly of one another in interviews, Houston praising Parton for writing a beautiful song, and Parton thanking Houston for bringing her song to a wider audience, and in the process making her a great deal of money in royalties. Dolly Parton also gave a live interview, confirming this.

Later covers

The popularity of Houston's version revitalized interest in the song, thus resulting in more covers by acts such as LeAnn Rimes, Kenny G, Tamia, James Galway, and John Tesh to name a few. It has also been released by Roger Whittaker and UK Pop Idol finalist Rik Waller and Bulgarian Music Idol winner Nevena Tsoneva. Kelli Glover covered the song in the first American Idol season and Tamyra Gray also sang it live on the TV series Boston Public.

Other acts who have recorded or performed the song include:

Use of the song in pop culture

The song appears in at least five major films. In addition to the two described above (The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and The Bodyguard), Parton's original 1973 recording was used in Martin Scorsese's 1974 film Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, playing in a scene while Ellen Burstyn and Harvey Keitel are making small talk in a bar. During the "Elephant Love Medley" song from the 2001 hit film Moulin Rouge!, Christian (Ewan McGregor) and Satine (Nicole Kidman) sing the Whitney Houston-styled climatic key change chorus. In 1996, film It's My Party about a man dying of AIDS throwing a party to say goodbye to his friends before he commits suicide, the lead character, played by Eric Roberts, chooses to play the Parton original several times to symbolize his feelings, causing his friends to comment on his music selection. Adam Sandler sings the song during a shower scene in Bulletproof. In Hedwig and the Angry Inch, a neighbor at Hedwig's trailer park continuosly blasts a version of the song for the whole neighborhood, much to the dismay of Hedwig.

On the television show Gilmore Girls, in episode 7.20 ("Lorelai? Lorelai?") Lorelai Gilmore sings the Dolly Parton arrangement of the song in a karaoke bar. She begins singing it to her daughter Rory, who is graduating from Yale, but when her on-again off-again fiance Luke Danes walks into the bar she shifts her attention and is clearly singing it to him. This led to discussion among her friends,
Lane Kim: She's a Whitney fan?Rory Gilmore: Oh, I think it's Dolly inspired.

In the video game, Karaoke Revolution Party, the Whitney Houston version is on it.

On ESPN Radio and ESPN2's Mike and Mike in the Morning, Mike Greenberg, who is an avid New York Jets fan, plays the Houston version of the song whenever he or Mike Golic talks about Chad Pennington.

On the NBC television show 30 Rock during the episode "Hard Ball," the song is comically sung by Tracy Jordan with Kenneth Parcell when he needs his bodyguards.

Whitney Houston's cover also appears in The Simpsons season 10 episode, "Mayored to the Mob," where it's sung to Homer after he graduates bodyguard school. It also appears in the end credits of the episode.

In the Futurama episode "Spanish Fry," Turanga Leela performs the song after touting it as the greatest love song ever written.

On the show Martin, in the episode "The Break Up part 3," Martin wins Gina back by quoting words from the song "I`ll go because if I stay I`ll just get In your way so I`ll go but I`ll think of you every step of the way. Bittersweet Memories"Gina" That is all I'm taking with me so good-bye, Please don't cry, We both know that I'm not what you need. And I...Will always love you I...Will always love you, ooh."

The song was played during a segment at Movie Rocks Show in 2007 where different movie songs and themes were played by piano.

In 2003, Rolling Stone and MTV ranked Houston's version at number 40 in its list of 100 Greatest Pop Songs of All Time.

In 2007, VH1 listed Houston's version at number 4 in its list of The Greatest Songs of the 90s.

In the episode of The Steve Harvey Show, in season 2's '"Ice Station Piggy" Romeo sings the song.

On Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Carlton refers to "I Will Always Love You" in the 1993 episode "Just Say Yo."

It was also used in an episode of Full House when DJ goes to the prom. Jesse's band is singing the song.


  1. Canadian RPM Country Tracks
  2. Hot Country Songs
  3. Canadian RPM Top Singles
  4. Canadian RPM Country Tracks
  5. Billboard Hot 100
  6. Hot Country Songs
  7. Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks
  8. Canadian RPM Country Tracks
  9. Hot Country Songs
  13. "R. Kelly's "Bump N' Grind" tops Billboard's Hot R&B Singles chart next week." Cincinnati Post. May 6 1994. Page 6c.
  17. Austrian certifications (Retrieved December 24, 2008)
  18. French certifications (Retrieved December 24, 2008)
  19. German certifications (Retrieved December 24, 2008)
  20. Dutch certifications (Retrieved December 24, 2008)
  21. Swedish certifications (Retrieved December 24, 2008)
  22. UK certifications (Retrieved September 3, 2008)
  23. U.S. certifications (Retrieved December 24, 2008)
  24. Australian Singles Chart
  25. Austrian Singles Chart
  26. Belgian Singles Chart
  27. Canadian Singles Chart
  28. Dutch Singles Chart
  29. European Singles Chart
  30. French Singles Chart
  31. German Singles Chart
  32. Irish Singles Chart
  33. Italian Singles Chart
  34. Japanese Singles Chart
  35. New Zealand Singles Chart
  36. Norwegian Singles Chart
  37. Swedish Singles Chart
  38. Swiss Singles Chart
  39. UK Singles Chart
  40. Billboard Hot 100
  41. Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks
  42. Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs
  45. Artist discography Retrieved 31 March 2009.
  • Ammons, Kevin; Bacon, Nancy 1996. Whitney Houston: Good Girl, Bad Girl. Carol Publishing, New Yorkmarker. ISBN 1-55972-379-3

External links

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