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Legendary singer and wonderful human Dolly Parton has recently revealed how she spent part of the royalties she has earned from her song ‘I Will Always Love You’.Parton wrote and recorded the song in 1973, nearly three decades before the late Whitney Houston turned it into a romantic ballad for her 1992 film The Bodyguard, also starring Kevin Costner, more recently seen in Yellowstone. Houston, who died in 2012 at the age of 48, was celebrated by Parton recently, as the country singer herself revealed in an interview with Andy Cohen.

Dolly Parton Gave Back To The Black Community In Honor Of Whitney Houston

In the 1990s, Parton made a whopping $10 million in royalties when Houston recorded a version of ‘I Will Always Love You’ for The Bodyguard.

The ‘Jolene’ singer has opened up on using some the royalties she has made from Houston’s cover to build an office complex in Nashville, in her native state of Tennessee.

“I bought my big office complex down in Nashville,” Parton explained on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen.

“It was mostly just Black families and people that lived around there,” Parton said of the neighborhood where she bought the building to be turned into offices..

“It was just off the beaten path from 16th Avenue and I thought, ‘Well I am going to buy this place.’ It was a whole strip mall. And I thought, ‘This is the perfect place for me to be, considering it was Whitney.'”

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She went on: “I just thought, ‘This was great. I’m going to be down here with her people, who are my people as well.’ And so I just love the fact that I spent that money on a complex. And I think, ‘This is the house that Whitney built.’ “

The Real Story Behind Dolly Parton’s ‘I Will Always Love You’

Houston’s soul arrangement turned the country song into a romantic ballad, peaking at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for 14 weeks. The cover became the best-selling single from a female artist in the US and earned the late singer a Grammy for Album of the Year in 1994.

Despite being perceived in popular culture as a love song, Parton wrote it with a different kind of breakup in mind: leaving a professional partner. The country singer penned it for her mentor and on-screen duet partner Porter Wagoner after the two hit a roadblock in their relationship: Dolly was ready to fly solo, while Porter wanted to continue their professional partnership.

“There was a lot of grief and heartache there, and he just wasn’t listening to my reasoning for my going,” Dolly told CMT in 2011.

“I thought, ‘Well, why don’t you do what you do best? Why don’t you just write this song?’… so I went home and out of a very emotional place in me at that time, I wrote the song, ‘I Will Always Love You.'”

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“It’s saying, ‘Just because I’m going don’t mean I won’t love you. I appreciate you and I hope you do great and I appreciate everything you’ve done, but I’m out of here,'” she told The Tennessean in 2015.

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After listening to it, Wagoner understood Parton’s motives. He cried and agreed to part ways, but asked to produce Parton’s record, deeming ‘I Will Always Love You’ “the best song [Dolly] ever wrote.”

Whitney Houston Wasn’t The Only Artist Interested In Covering ‘I Will Always Love You’

Throughout the years, ‘I Will Always Love You’ has been recorded by many artists, including Linda Ronstadt and John Doe. Arguably, no one’s version was as popular as that sung by Houston, which helped cemented the cult status of Parton’s music and lyrics.

Things could’ve gone a lot differently had Parton agreed to let Elvis Presley record the song. The King was apparently very keen on singing his own rendition of the 1973 track, but savvy businesswoman Parton reluctantly declined since his management asked for a 50% stake in the song’s publishing royalties.

“I said, ‘I’m sorry, but I can’t give you the publishing.’ I wanted to hear Elvis sing it, and it broke my heart—I cried all night,” Parton told W Magazine in 2021.

“But I had to keep that copyright in my pocket. You have to take care of your business! Everybody’s going to use you if they can. These are my songs—they’re like my children. And I expect them to support me when I’m old!”

As it turns out, Parton made the right decision in keeping the rights, as the song became one of the most celebrated and popular romantic ballads, being featured in several films as well as an episode of Gilmore Girls in which Lorelai (Lauren Graham) sings the Dolly Parton version during karaoke night, clearly thinking about Luke (Scott Patterson). And apparently, Elvis did get to belt it too, after all.

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“Priscilla, Elvis’s wife, told me that when she and Elvis divorced, Elvis sang my song to her. That touched me so deeply,” Parton shared. “And they also played the song at Whitney Houston’s funeral. After that, I thought, I bet they’ll play the same song when I go.”