Dolly Parton still dreams of Elvis Presley. She had the chance to meet him once, but she had to turn him down. She cried about that. But like most things she struggled with, the country queen turned it into a song where she imagines singing one of her biggest hits with The King.
Shortly after leaving The Porter Wagoner Show, Dolly Parton wrote one of the most iconic songs of her career. “I Will Always Love You” was her first No. 1 hit. One of the song’s biggest fans was Elvis Presley. He even reached out to record a cover of the song.
“I told everybody,” Parton recalled. “I told everybody in Nashville. ‘Elvis is gonna do my song.’ ‘Elvis is gonna do my song.’”
But the day of Elvis’ recording session, his manager, Col. Tom Parker, reached out to Parton. The King would sing “I Will Always Love You,” but the queen of country would need to hand over half of the publishing rights for the song, which would entitle him to half of the royalties of the song. That was the standard operating procedure for Elvis, Parker told Parton. She was crushed.
“I said, ‘I’m sorry, but I can’t give you the publishing,’” Parton told W Magazine. “I wanted to hear Elvis sing it, and it broke my heart — I cried all night.
“But I had to keep that copyright in my pocket. You have to take care of your business! Everybody’s going to use you if they can. These are my songs — they’re like my children. And I expect them to support me when I’m old!”
Dolly Parton On Her Unreleased Song About Elvis Presley
Several artists have covered “I Will Always Love You” over the years. Most famous is Whitney Houston’s rendition for the 1992 film The Bodyguard, which sent the song back to No. 1. Dolly Parton loves that version of the song, but she still dreams about how Elvis Presley would sing it. The thought nagged at her so much that she hired an Elvis impersonator to help her live out that fantasy, she told Yahoo recently.
“I’ve still always wanted him to sing it,” she said. “I wrote a song later called “I Dreamed About Elvis,” and it was about dreaming about Elvis singing that song. And I had an Elvis soundalike come in and sing the Elvis part, and it sounds great! Maybe one day I’ll put that out.”
She’s never released the track, but she’s performed it at concerts before. Recordings of those performances have leaked online.
In the song, Dolly Parton imagines Presley returning to Earth looking “healthy and at peace.” They rattle off some of Elvis’ hits and talk about music before The King laments not covering her song. The track ends with the two singing a duet of “I Will Always Love You.”