Elvis Presley, often hailed as the undisputed King of Rock and Roll, made waves not only with his swaying hips and iconic voice but also with the songs he chose to perform. A surprising fact that often slips under the radar is that Elvis had his very own rendition of the classic I Will Always Love You. While most people today associate this poignant ballad with Whitney Houston’s powerful voice, the story behind Elvis’s connection to the song is just as intriguing.
This tale, rich and captivating, is interwoven with passion, music, and a turning point in the careers of both Presley and the song’s original writer and singer, Dolly Parton. The journey of this song from Parton’s pen to Elvis’s interest and eventually to Houston’s iconic version is a testament to the power of music. The business decision associated with it, which led to both musical legends standing at a crossroads, adds an unexpected twist to the story. For fans of music history, it’s a reminder of the intricate web of events, choices, and emotions that can influence the path of a single song.
Elvis’s Affection for the Track
The enigmatic Elvis Presley has long been a subject of fascination and admiration for millions around the world. But recently, fans were granted an even more intimate glimpse into the King of Rock and Roll’s emotional landscape. This enlightening moment came courtesy of a revelatory interview with none other than the legendary Dolly Parton on the BBC.
In this heart-to-heart conversation, Parton opened up about her interactions with Priscilla Presley, Elvis’s former wife. Through this discourse, listeners were given an unprecedented peek into the depth of Elvis’s affection for the song I Will Always Love You. It’s no secret that Elvis had an appreciation for the track, but the extent of this adoration was something previously unknown to the general public.
“Elvis loved the song,” Parton remarked, an echo of the sentiment she’d always held. But the depth of that love took a clearer shape when she relayed Priscilla’s words, “Elvis sang that song to me when we walked down the courthouse steps when we got divorced. He was singing to me I Will Always Love You.”
This beautiful, bittersweet recollection not only underscores the sentimental value of the song but also offers a touching insight into Elvis’s personal life and the tender moments he shared with Priscilla.
Why We Never Heard Elvis’s Version
It’s a tantalizing detail for fans to learn that Elvis not only admired the song but had even recorded it. The hope of possibly listening to this rendition would have sent shivers down the spines of ardent music enthusiasts. However, a key business decision stood between the world and Elvis’s version.
Parton was invited to the studio to hear Elvis’s recording. However, before she could grace the studio, a call from Elvis’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker, changed everything. Parker’s stipulation that Elvis would require at least half of the song’s publishing rights was a deal-breaker for Parton.
She commented, “This is the most important copyright in my whole publishing company. I can’t do that.”
While the decision was gut-wrenching for Parton, she held her ground, and the world never got to hear the King’s rendition of the iconic ballad.
A Tribute from the Queen of Country
Despite the business impasse, Parton’s reverence for Elvis hasn’t waned. She’s found another medium to commemorate and celebrate the King. On her upcoming album titled Rockstar, set to drop on November 17, 2023, fans will get a taste of a track that’s been waiting in the wings for two decades. I Dreamed of Elvis, penned by Parton 20 years ago, promises a nostalgic journey with vocals from Ronnie McDowell, a former tour mate of Elvis, whose voice bears a striking resemblance to the King’s.
In a world filled with what-ifs, this story is a gentle reminder of the profound connections music can forge and the business decisions that sometimes stand in their way. As the world awaits the release of Rockstar, there’s no doubt that both Parton’s and Elvis’s legacies will continue to intertwine and inspire generations to come.