Dolly Parton’s Unbreakable Bond with Elvis Presley and the Song That Could Have Been
The Unforgettable Melody: Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You”
The music industry is filled with ‘what could have been’ stories, but one tale that stands out is Dolly Parton’s unrequited musical connection with Elvis Presley. In a captivating sit-down with BBC Radio 1, the iconic Dolly Parton delved into her sentiments about the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. She expressed a sincere wish that Presley could have performed her classic, “I Will Always Love You.” The barrier? A significant demand from Presley’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker.
Publishing Rights: The Dealbreaker
All systems were go for Presley to render his version of Parton’s unforgettable song. However, on the eve of the recording, Colonel Tom Parker dropped a bombshell. He stated categorically that Presley “doesn’t record anything without at least half the publishing [rights].”
For Parton, the song was far more than just another tune—it was the crown jewel of her publishing company. “This is the most important copyright in my whole publishing company, and I can’t do that,” she unequivocally responded to Parker.
The Story behind Elvis & The Song ‘I Will Always Love You’ by Dolly Parton
Oh I’ll always be bitter about the fact that we could have gotten Elvis singing I Will Always Love You!! Oh he would have sang it like an angel! #DollyParton #ElvisPresley pic.twitter.com/InnR5ZIQmG
— Kristen (@KristenJoy78) September 16, 2023
A Heartfelt Rejection: When Parton Had to Say No
Parton found herself in a poignant situation—having to decline an offer from a man she knew was deeply connected to her song. “I was heartbroken,” she conceded, speaking about the emotional toll of the decision. Yet, the depth of Presley’s connection to the song was confirmed in a conversation she had with his ex-wife, Priscilla Presley. “Elvis sang that song to me when we were walking down the courthouse steps when we got divorced,” Priscilla shared.
The Whitney Houston Connection: A Resurgence of Emotion
Although Presley never got to add his unique imprint to “I Will Always Love You,” Whitney Houston did years later. The song was featured on the soundtrack of the film “The Bodyguard.” Parton’s reaction to hearing Houston’s cover was a mix of awe and jubilation. “I freaked out,” she stated, adding that hearing the song on the radio resulted in “the most overwhelming feeling.”
New Musical Avenues: The Ronnie McDowell Collaboration
Despite the missed opportunity with Presley, Parton found another channel for her talent when she collaborated with Ronnie McDowell for her upcoming album. McDowell had once toured with Presley and sounded eerily similar to the King. Parton revealed, “I wrote a song called ‘I Dreamed About Elvis.’ It’s in this album.”
Unveiling “Rockstar”: Dolly Parton’s Newest Album
Breaking from her traditional roots, Parton’s latest album, “Rockstar,” showcases her versatile talent with collaborations featuring Miley Cyrus, Pink, and Paul McCartney. “I really think it’s some of the best work I’ve ever done,” Parton admitted. “I wanted it to be good.”
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: The Honor She Almost Declined
Interestingly, despite her expansive career, Parton hesitated when initially offered an induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. “I never thought of myself as a rock star,” she mused, questioning whether she had earned the accolade. Eventually, she accepted and joined the ranks of Eminem, Lionel Richie, and others in November 2022.
A Graceful Acceptance and a Rock Album to Boot
Parton’s decision to finally accept the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction was nothing short of graceful. “Well, if they wanna give it to me anyhow, I’m going to accept it gracefully,” she declared. It was an acceptance that came with a cherry on top—an eagerly-awaited rock album to validate her new title.
From her endearing relationship with Elvis Presley to her newest album “Rockstar,” Dolly Parton continues to be a powerhouse of talent and versatility. With an ever-expanding repertoire and an infectious energy, she proves that some legends just never fade.
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