Every #1 Country Single of the Eighties: Dolly Parton, “I Will Always Love You”/”Do I Ever Cross Your Mind”

“I Will Always Love You”

Written by Dolly Parton

“Do I Ever Cross Your Mind”

Written by Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton


#1 (1 week)

October 23, 1982

Dolly Parton knew how well “I Will Always Love You” would work as the climactic musical moment of a romantic film.

Alas, this was ten years before The Bodyguard, where Whitney Houston performed it with extraordinary results.

Parton was stuck wedging it into The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.  It worked well enough commercially, becoming the first song to top the country chart twice by the same artist.

But because the 1974 version already existed, the comparison between the two chart-topping versions is inevitable, and 1982 comes up short.  She’s too breathy, whiny, and overly theatrical.  These choices are made in service to the film, and they work better on screen than they do on record.

The gem of Dolly Parton’s only two-sided No. 1 hit is “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind,” a song that Parton had been including in her live set for years and finally put down on record.

It’s a nervy, pulsating record that uses the musical track to build tension while Parton’s vocal floats above it with feigned indifference.  She’s pretending that she’s asking out of casual curiosity, but the truth is that he’s always on her mind and she’s hoping the same is true for him.

So we get two of Parton’s best compositions on one 45, with one of them being the composition’s definitive recording.  Not a bad deal.

“I Will Always Love You ’82” gets a B.

“Do I Ever Cross Your Mind” gets an A.

Every No. 1 Single of the Eighties

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  1. Of course the 1974 Version of “I Will Always Love You” is the best and unmatched in my opinion. However, I also love this version. It is true that it works better in the movie. The original has always been my favorite country song long before I heard the Whitney version.

  2. I too think the ’74 version of IWALY is superior, and for the exact reasons you pointed out. The ’82 version was the first one I ever heard, and I only heard that one for a while, and when I heard the ’74 original, it was a real eye-opener. “Wow, this is so, SO MUCH better.”

    (It makes me think of the two versions of Patsy Cline’s “Walkin’ after Midnight,” where the 1957 version was much better than the ’61 recording, although that’s a whole different discussion!)

    • I got the vinyl of the 1975 Best of Dolly Parton at a yard sale or something when I was in my early teens. That whole damn record was a revelation. Ditto for the RCA Years box set that I got for Christmas shortly thereafter.

      Hearing songs like “The Bargain Store” and “Down From Dover” and “Touch Your Woman” for the first time was such an eye opener. It will take another 25 years, but I eventually was able to get all of her RCA catalog.

      I take great satisfaction that my slightly controversial 2008 ranking of her as the greatest woman in country music would be met with a “Duh, obviously” today!

      • I got the vinyl of the 1975 Best of Dolly Parton at a yard sale or something when I was in my early teens. That whole damn record was a revelation. Ditto for the RCA Years box set that I got for Christmas shortly thereafter.

        I had much the same reaction to that time period for Dolly. I don’t hate her music starting with 1977’s There You Come Again by any means, but I’ll readily admit a preference for her older stuff. She also did great versions of her own “Kentucky Gambler” and “In The Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad),” both of which were also recorded by Merle Haggard (I actually heard his versions of them first).

  3. I didn’t mind her re-recording the song for the soundtrack. However, there was no point in releasing it as a single again. The original is the best by far IMO.

    Whitney’s version sounded beautiful until she began sounding like a car alarm (there’s actually a In Living Color skit about that).

    For Dolly fans, Rolling Stone magazine currently has their list of the 50 best Dolly Parton songs on their website. They did a pretty good job with their list.

  4. This is the first version of “I Will Always Love You” that I heard, in the movie of course, and it was enough for me to remember it well. I adore Whitney’s version though I like to think of Dolly’s and Whitney’s as separate but equal (and do prefer the original Dolly version). I also really like “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind” and think it’s a great song of Dolly’s.

  5. The great debate about Whitney vs Dolly will rage forever– I love both and will go to bat for them equally, albeit for different reasons– but I don’t want to overlook the other half of this double-sided single.

    My all-time favorite cover of any Dolly song is actually Joan Osborne’s stunning and melancholy rendition of “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1VRxZ9K4GM&pp=ygUmam9hbiBvc2Jvcm5lIGRvIGkgZXZlciBjcm9zcyB5b3VyIG1pbmQ%3D

    • oh, I have to agree on the best version of Do I Ever Cross Your Mind being by Joan Osborone. “Do I” was actually one of my least favorite Dolly songs until I heard the Joan version. It really is a great example of Dolly’s songwriting. It just needed to find the right home

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