Karen Ocamb

Dolly Parton vs Whitney Houston: Faux Controversy

Filed By Karen Ocamb | February 19, 2012 5:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: Dolly Parton, faux outrage, I Will Always Love You, song ownership, songwriter, Whitney Houston

Dolly Parton singing her song 'I Will Always Love You" in 1974 (Screen capture from video)

Leave it to TMZ's Harvey Levin to stir up controversy where there wasn't any. After Whitney Houston's death, singer/songwriter Dolly Parton posted this on her blog:

"Mine is only one of the millions of hearts broken over the death of Whitney Houston. I will always be grateful and in awe of the wonderful performance she did on my song, and I can truly say from the bottom of my heart, Whitney, I will always love you. You will be missed."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution picked up TMZ's faux-controversy: "TMZ reports that Parton ‘is eating her words’ and ‘took a lot of flack’ (from who, it's not clear) for labeling the song ‘hers.’”

To be sure, as Kevin Costner noted during Houston's funeral Saturday, Houston turned Parton's "little country song" into a mega-hit. But the song is Parton's - she wrote it and originally sang it in 1974 on the show of her musical partner Porter Wagoner with whom she was splitting. Parton sent TMZ a statement saying, "I did not know Whitney, nor any of her family personally; but she will always be a part of my heart and I will always be grateful for her awesome performance and success with our song."

To me, Parton’s apology is gracious but completely unnecessary. I love when artists put their own spin on a song – I cried when Fantasia Barrino sang “Summertime” on American Idol. But to me, the song “Summertime” will always be the George Gershwin song for the Broadway opera Porgy and Bess. And how many times have you heard “Somewhere Over The Rainbow?” I suggest more people these days might equate the song with the unique ukulele version by Hawaiian singer Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo?ole or even Katharine McPhee (the song Simon Cowell picked for her on Idol) than with Judy Garland, a suggestion that is pure heresy to some.

Parton praised Houston for the late singer’s version. But Parton’s pure version of song she wrote about the heart=breaking split also deserves merit.

(Crossposted at LGBTPOV)


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