Elvis Presley Sang a Dolly Parton Song to Priscilla as They Got Divorced
It's no secret that Elvis Presley was a huge fan of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You." The musical legend even wanted to record his own version of Parton's signature song, and they nearly made it happen, though Parton had to pull the plug on the idea at the last minute.
But even Parton herself might not have known at the time just how personal "I Will Always Love You" was to Presley.
A little bit of backstory: Parton recorded her original version of "I Will Always Love You" in June 1973. That same year, Presley and his wife Priscilla were in the process of deciding to divorce, and that paperwork was finalized in October.
In a recent interview with BBC Radio 2, Parton shares a recent conversation with Priscilla about how the song played into the day they signed the papers.
"She said to me, 'You know, 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,'" Parton recalls.
It was a fitting use for that song, although Parton didn't exactly write it about a divorce. "I Will Always Love You" was written about the dissolution of her professional relationship with Porter Wagoner, as she decided to leave his show in order to pursue a solo career.
Parton has said in the past that she was thrilled when she learned Presley wanted to cover "I Will Always Love You," but ultimately, she couldn't sign off on the idea because his manager Colonel Tom Parker insisted that Presley own half the publishing rights.
"And I said, 'This is the most important copyright in my whole publishing company, and I can't do that,'" Parton says. "... And I was heartbroken. So I always wanted to hear how Elvis did it."
Presley's "I Will Always Love You" never came to be, but as Parton readies her Rockstar album for release this fall, she's including a tribute to the King of Rock 'n' Roll that she recorded with his backing band, the Jordanaires, and Ronnie McDowell, who worked with Presley and has a very similar singing voice.
"I dreamed that Elvis was singing the song 'I Will Always Love You,' and then I wrote a whole song about Elvis," Parton says.
Rockstar will arrive on Nov. 17.