Outside of songwriting, Dolly Parton’s country music image is renowned for her sweetness and sensuality. The 74-year-old living legend is an acclaimed philanthropist who often gives good reasons. It’s hard to imagine Parton ever having a rude word for anyone.
But in the recently released Parton memoir, Dolly Parton, Songmaker: My Life in Lyrics (which she co-wrote with Ron K. Oermann), she notes that her relationship with her longtime songwriting partner, Porter Wagoner, was certainly not always sweet and light-hearted. In fact, Parton and Wagoner would often raise their heads when writing together – especially when it came to business.
Parton and Wagoner were on a rollercoaster ride of a professional relationship
Parton and Wagoner began working together in 1967, when she began appearing Porter Wagoner Exhibition regularly. Soon, they began writing together, and the pair released songwriting several duet records.
In her new memoir, Parton explains that she took the lead in many of the duo’s songwriting efforts, despite being more new to the industry. Wagoner was not famous as a songwriter when they started working as a couple.
“I helped him get into that,” Parton explains, saying that he helped her with many songs that didn’t get her official credit.
However, while Wagoner and Parton had professional chemistry, their relationship was often difficult.
“Sometimes it was easy, sometimes it wasn’t,” Parton wrote Songmaker. “We were both very bull.” She says she could never tell if they were “too similar” or “too different” to get on.
The country’s image ‘I Will Always Love You’ was written in praise of the end of her professional relationship with Wagoner
Over time, Wagoner wanted more control over Parton’s career. She maintains in her new memoir that her professional jealousy began to affect their working relationship.
Eventually, Parton decided it was time to spread his wings and go out on his own for a one-on-one career.
Naturally, the country singer returned from her partnership with Wagoner in the best way she knew how: with a song. She wrote the smash 1974 no. 1 “I Will Always Love You” – now in the Grammy Hall of Fame – about trying to free herself from the control of Wagoner’s efforts.
Every lyric in that song, Parton explains, “it came straight from the bottom [her] heart. ”
“He was trying to control something out of control,” she writes about Wagoner, “and that made me miserable.”
The song was composed by Wagoner himself – even telling Parton that it was “the best song she’s ever written” – and the two continued to work together from time to time until they parted ways. good in 1975.