Whitney Houston's death is a tragedy in pretty much every way, but the singer's demise may have a silver lining for Dolly Parton.
Wait, make that a gold lining.
As the author of one of Whitney Houston's biggest hits, "I Will Always Love You," Parton stands to rake in a fortune in royalties for the tune, which she released her own version of in 1974.
Predictably, Houston's death on Saturday has sparked a renewed interest in her music, and in particular "I Will Always Love You." As of this writing, the song "I Will Always Love You" sits comfortably atop the iTunes song chart; the Houston catalog has also seen a remarkable resurgence on the Amazon music chart.
As of 2009, the mechanical royalty rate that songwriters receive on recordings of their compositions is 9 1/2 cents per physical copy or permanent download -- a pittance when taken individually, but those pennies add up when sales are hot, as will surely be the case with Houston's music over the coming days and weeks.
Houston's recording of the song has been remarkably profitable for Parton. The soundtrack for Houston's film "The Bodyguard," which contained her version of the song, has sold a jaw-dropping 44 million copies worldwide, while the single has sold 4,591,000 copies as of 2009. The 2000 compilation album "Whitney: The Greatest Hits" -- which also contained the song -- has sold 10 million copies to date.
Interestingly, Parton originally wrote the song as a farewell for her partner and mentor Porter Wagoner, when the two of them were dissolving their business relationship.
Parton paid tribute to the deceased Houston on Saturday, saying in a statement, "“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.’”