36. Dolly Parton – ‘I Will Always Love You’ (1974)

“If I should stay
I would only be in your way
So I’ll go, but I know
I’ll think of you each step of the way
And I will always love you”

Written by Dolly Parton

Produced by Bob Ferguson

Taken from the album Jolene

Also released on The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas: Original Soundtrack, Greatest Hits, The Ultimate Collection, Legendary Dolly Parton, Live And Well, The Only Dolly Parton Album You’ll Ever Need, The Essential Dolly Parton, Ultimate Dolly Parton, The Very Best Of Dolly Parton, Dolly and Live From London

US #53

Whitney Houston’s cover version featured much earlier in this list, but Dolly’s original is so, so much better. Dolly’s voice brings out all the little subtleties in her lyrics, makes you feel the heartbreak with her, makes you experience the song. The stripped-down backing and lack of vocal theatrics work wonders for ‘I Will Always Love You’, and thankfully it has been widely acknowledged as years have gone on that Dolly’s reading is the definitive version.

Written about the end of her professional relationship with country star Porter Wagoner, ‘I Will Always Love You’ is genius in it’s simplicity. Two regular verses, one spoken interlude, and a chorus that repeats the title a few times. And to think that this song would eventually become the biggest selling non-charity single of all time in it’s Whitney version. I suppose it goes to show that the public likes nothing better than a good old fashioned love song, and ‘I Will Always Love You’ may just be the greatest love (song) of all.

A staple in Dolly’s live performances and probably her best loved hit in it’s original version, Dolly’s ‘I Will Always Love You’ has charted three times, becoming undeniably successful in it’s own right. It is the high point of her glory years, her greatest wide-scale achievement, her most beautiful love song. It is the perfect summation of why everybody loves Dolly Parton.


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