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Dolly Parton and Whitney Houston will undoubtedly remain connected through their smash hit song “I Will Always Love You,” written by Parton and performed by Houston. But according to the country crooner, that connection runs much deeper.
The song was played during Houston’s funeral service in February, which was broadcast live from coast to coast, leaving Parton feeling “shattered.”
“[It] just shattered me to hear that song played under those conditions,” Parton said during an interview with ABC’s Nightline to air Wednesday. “I thought my heart was gonna stop. It just pierced me like a knife. It’s just — I can’t explain that feeling, to think that that was so final for her, and that that was my words and my feeing — I would forever be so connected to her.”
As The Hollywood Reporter previously reported, Parton has pocketed more than $70,000 in royalties since Houston’s Feb. 11 death. “I Will Always Love You” was downloaded 195,000 times in the week following Houston’s death and played 2,137 times on the U.S. radio during the weekend of her death.
“I really did feel like that song belongs to all of us,” Parton said of Houston, Kevin Costner and composer David Foster, who rearranged Parton’s original version for their film, The Bodyguard.
Parton recalled the history of her iconic song, written in 1972 for her late duet and business partner Porter Wagoner. At the time, the two were fighting about Parton leaving his syndicated TV show to pursue a solo career. The track was later re-recorded for the 1982 film The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas with Burt Reynolds.
“When Whitney did ‘I Will Always Love You,’ I mean look what a grand song she made out of that simple, heartfelt, you know, song… it was just amazing,” she said. “Whitney is the one who took it worldwide and really made it a household word – or song, I should say – so I’ll always be thankful to her for that.
Parton’s interview will air in full on Wednesday, April 4, at 11:35 p.m on ABC. The singer is currently promoting her latest project, a two-disc DVD and CD set titled An Evening With… Dolly Live.
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