Drunk History retells story of Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner in ‘I Will Always Love You’

Behind every great song, there’s usually an equally great story. That’s the case with Dolly Parton‘s classic “I Will Always Love You”. The timeless ballad remains one of the singer/songwriter’s most well-known and beloved hits. But even if you’ve heard its origin story before, this retelling from the television show “Drunk History” will surely make you love the story of why the song was written even more.

The “Drunk History” of “I Will Always Love You”

“Drunk History” host Derek Waters travels the country talking to historians — professional and amateur — of all kinds and listens to them recount stories from history while enjoying some — or a lot — fine adult beverages.

Emmy-nominated writer/producer Seth Weitberg begins the story of Dolly Parton taking the place of Norma Jean as the “girl singer” on “The Porter Wagoner Show” in the 1960s with a drink in hand. The rest is a tipsy ride through the country music relationship between Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner.

As the story goes, when Dolly Parton got her first solo hit with the song “Jolene” she wanted to make a break from Porter Wagoner and his show. In order to tell him, Dolly wrote the song, “I Will Always Love You”. She then sang the song for him to ultimately garner Wagoner’s approval for the split.

Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner - the story behind 'I Will Always Love You'

Did Porter Wagoner test Dolly’s love?

As Dolly Parton’s fame grew over the subsequent years, in both her music career and starring with Burt Reynolds in the movie “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” Porter Wagoner sued Dolly.

Wagoner demanded 15 percent of everything Dolly has made. The country icon settled with Wagoner for a one-time lump sum instead.

But Dolly Parton didn’t let Porter’s money grab make her bitter or angry.

When Porter Wagoner subsequently fell on hard times financially, Dolly bought his entire, extensive catalog of songs, giving him a much-needed infusion of cash.

And when a more financially stable Wagoner came back to her years later wanting to buy back the rights to his music, she told him he could have it all back for free.

While the pair didn’t remain close over the years — could anyone blame Dolly for not wanting to talk to Porter despite her love for the man? — Dolly went to see before his death in 2007 and sang the song she’d written for him all those years before: “I Will Always Love You.”

And that’s why Dolly Parton is the best.

You can find more “Drunk History” on the shows YouTube channel or tune into Comedy Central on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. Eastern.

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