Country music legend Dolly Parton has good friends on late-night television. The unparalleled songwriter, singer, and all-around entertainer does a playfully perfect duet with Jimmy Fallon on her latest Yuletide collection, “A Holly Dolly Christmas.” This week, Dolly stopped by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, as Yahoo noted. Singing together is nothing new for Dolly Parton and the host with a flair for song and dance, but Parton was there to talk about her coffee table book, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics.
When Stephen made a special request to hear Dolly sing a song she learned from her mother as a child, it didn’t take long for tears to come to Colbert. The emotional response was a surprise for the host, along with his famous songwriting friend.
So many songs to remember for Dolly Parton
“I write songs, but I tell stories in my songs,” Parton describes of aptly-titled book. By her recollection, Dolly Parton has written some 3000 songs. Some keep turning up in hidden places in her home. She relates that songwriting “is like my personal time with God,” when she can let the divine talent take hold and keep her “in that special zone where everything else is shut out.” Her first song, “Tiny Tassel Top,” was written before the young composer could even write. Her mother rushed to capture the words on paper.
Dolly Parton knows the value of a song to express emotions that words alone can’t contain. Many of her songs are gifts to help someone else work through feelings. “I’ll think ‘Well, they don’t know how to express how they feel– they’re depressed or they’re sad’” and a song from Dolly helps them cope.
Emmylou Harris, the country music and Americana icon, pleaded with Dolly Parton to give her the song, “To Daddy,” which Parton wrote while she was still on the Porter Wagoner Show in the 1960s. Dolly let her generous nature rule, and gave the song to Harris, much to Wagoner’s dismay. He was planning on another hit single with Dolly singing the heartfelt tune. It would be 1979 before Dolly would perform the song and 1994 before she would release it herself
Dolly described to Stephen Colbert how delighted she was to hear Whitney Houston’s stellar treatment of her parting song to Porter Wagoner, “I Will Always Love You.” “That’s my little song” Dolly recalled. “She made it so big and so beautiful!” Dolly Parton praised. Of course, Dolly kept her shares of the songwriting rights and royalties.
Stephen Colbert needed a Dolly Parton stress-reliever
Dolly Parton is used to using her music as a vessel for healing and helping. This week, she joined forces with Rita Wilson, Jordin Sparks, Monica, and Sara Evans on the song, “PINK,” released October 22, as Billboard confirmed
“Someday pink will be just a color/Not a ribbon to remember a best friend or a mother” remind the lyrics of the moving country-pop ballad, which also voices the yearning that one day a baseball cap will be “just a hat” and not “something to hide under” after the ravages of cancer.
Proceeds from the song benefit the Susan G. Komen Cancer Foundation. Breast cancer affects 42,000 men and women annually. Every 15 minutes, a breast cancer diagnosis is given and that is the same length of time for a breast self-examination. Dolly Parton has supported many family members affected by cancer and Rita Wilson is a breast cancer survivor. Wilson will perform the song with Lauren Alaina, Little Big Town, and two of the song’s writing collaborators at the Opry Goes Pink event on October 24. Strict health and safety measures and social-distancing will be in force for the restricted audience numbers.
A memory from her mother
Stephen Colbert didn’t know how much stress he was really under until Dolly Parton obliged his request to sing a song she remembered from her childhood. “My mother would just sing all the time, and him she was a good singer,” Parton related.
One song that came to mind was “Bury Me Beneath the Willow.” The song about a betrothed bride who kills herself after being spurned by her groom truly got to Stephen Colbert. The host is known for his politically-barbed humor, but before Dolly Parton got to the second verse, he was dabbing his eyes.
“I know you’re not really crying,” Dolly teased at first. When the tears continued as she sang, however, she started to realize, like the millions of YouTube viewers, that they were for real.
“I’ve been under a lot of stress,” Colbert confided. It’s no wonder, with so many you did late-night sessions boiling over the presidential debates.
Dolly agreed that tears are good cleansers for the soul, but she cautioned Stephen “not cry yourself to death, or we won’t finish the show!”
Dolly Parton credits her husband, Carl Dean, for divine words of comfort
When life gets stressful for Dolly Parton, she knows she can look to her husband of 54 years, Carl Dean, to give her a comforting word, and not just from the heart. Stephen Colbert mentioned how Dolly has described that for her, God tends to speak through her husband.
“When I’m worried about something, even praying about something, waiting for an answer, he’ll just say something that gives me peace.” Even when Dolly doesn’t tell her husband about her concerns, he knows how to speak words to ease her mind and spirit. That’s why she’s always felt that God speaks to her through Carl. “I guess that’s what love is,” Dolly Parton explains, and the commitment these partners share goes far deeper than chronological years.
Stephen Colbert agreed that he and his wife share a similar connection. The host was a little upset that Dolly Parton decided to sing a recorded Christmas duet with Jimmy Fallon. “You’re a better singer,” Parton pledged. Let’s hope Jimmy wasn’t watching his competition.
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