Grammy Winner Jeff Tweedy Says Dolly Parton Shouldn’t Have Written “I Will Always Love You”
(Left) The Late Show With Stephen Colbert / YouTube (Right) Paul Natkin / Getty Images
The History Behind The Iconic Dolly Parton Song “I Will Always Love You”
Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” is arguably her most popular song. Parton wrote the emotional track as a farewell to her duet partner, Porter Wagoner, as she left to pursue her solo career.
“How am I gonna make him understand how much I appreciate everything, but that I have to go?” Parton recalled when telling The Tennessean how she came up with the song. “So I went home and I thought, ‘Well, what do you do best? You write songs.’ So I sat down and I wrote this song.”
Parton released “I Will Always Love You” for the first time in 1974. It reached the #1 spot on the Hot Country Songs chart soon after.
Then in 1982, Parton re-recorded the song for The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. It went #1 again, making Parton one of few artists to ever hit #1 with the same song twice.
Whitney Houston Covered “I Will Always Love You” And Turned It Into A Global Sensation
Parton’s original version of “I Will Always Love You” was already beloved by millions. But the song became a worldwide sensation when Whitney Houston covered it in 1992 for The Bodyguard soundtrack.
Parton told Kelly Clarkson how she reacted upon hearing Houston’s version for the first time. It came on the radio while she was driving:
“They hadn’t sent it to me. They did nothing. I heard it on the radio. And so when it went into ‘And I,’ I just freaked out. I had to pull over to the side because, honestly, I thought I was ‘gonna wreck. It was the most overwhelming feeling. And you know how great that was.”
Houston’s rendition reached #1 on music charts around the world, including the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. Her version also won two Grammy Awards, among many other accolades.
Additionally, Houston’s recording of “I Will Always Love You” was certified Diamond by the RIAA for the sale of more than 10 million units.
When Rolling Stone released their updated 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list in 2021, Houston’s version of “I Will Always Love You” ranked at #94.
Who Is Jeff Tweedy?
However, one musician believes Dolly Parton never should have written “I Will Always Love You.” That person is Jeff Tweedy, a two-time Grammy winner best known as the singer and guitarist in the alternative rock band Wilco.
Tweedy started off in the band The Plebes, which became the alternative country band Uncle Tupelo. After Uncle Tupelo broke up, Tweedy formed Wilco. Their 2004 album A Ghost is Born, won the Grammys for Best Alternative Album and Best Recording Package.
In addition, Tweedy is a songwriter, record producer, and author.
Tweedy recently released a new book called World Within a Song: Music That Changed My Life and Life That Changed My Music. In the book, Tweedy also lists a few songs that he doesn’t enjoy, and “I Will Always Love You” is one of them.
Jeff Tweedy Believes Dolly Parton “Should’ve Stopped” Before She Wrote “I Will Always Love You”
Tweedy shared his thoughts about the song during a conversation with Stephen Colbert. He said:
“…I love Dolly Parton. All I know is that she wrote ‘Jolene’ and ‘I Will Always Love You’ in the same day, and I think she should’ve stopped after ‘Jolene.'”
It’s an often-repeated story that Parton wrote “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You” on the same day. But Parton herself does not recall if she did.
“Well I don’t really know if they were written in the same night,” Parton told Clubhouse in 2022. “When we found an old tape, they were on the same cassette. That could have been a few days apart.”
Both songs were included on Parton’s Jolene album.
Tweedy Explains Why He Doesn’t Like “I Will Always Love You”
So why does Tweedy dislike “I Will Always Love You” so much? He told Colbert it has something to do with the elongated “I” in the chorus:
“It’s obviously me, because I think that people have a natural kind of inclination to reject things that they can’t do,” he said. “And I can’t hold a note for very long, so that song is dead to me.”
This isn’t the only unpopular opinion Tweedy has. In his book, he also admitted to disliking beloved songs such as Israel Kamakawiwoʻole’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now,” and the Allman Brothers Band’s “Ramblin’ Man.”
You can watch Tweedy’s full conversation with Colbert in the video below to hear more of his opinions.