Watch Dolly Parton Make Stephen Colbert Cry With an Old Folk Song

Sage Young
·4 min read

Not even seasoned late night hosts are immune to the charms of national songwriting treasure Dolly Parton. On Oct. 20, Stephen Colbert (virtually) welcomed the country star onto The Late Show to discuss her new book, Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics, and the interview ended in tears—the good kind. Dolly Parton made Stephen Colbert cry when she sang an old song her mother used to sing to her, and who can blame him?

In talking about the book, Parton revealed that being a songwriter is more important to her than being a performer. "I love to perform, and I love my fans, but there's just something about writing songs that's just kinda like my personal time with God," she said. Colbert brought up Parton's mother and her influence on the artist's songwriting, especially as it pertains to songs that tell stories. "Mama used to sing all those songs brought over from the old world," Parton said, before giving an example: an old folk song called "Bury Me Beneath the Willow."

"So many of those songs were sad, and as I say, some of them just 'plum pitiful,'" she said with a laugh. "['Bury Me Beneath the Willow'] was about a girl that was going to get married, and her boyfriend left her at the altar or whatever, so she died, of course…"

Then Parton launched into the song, a cappella. "Bury me beneath the willow, under the weeping willow tree, where he may know where I am sleeping and perhaps he'll weep for me," the lyrics go.

When Parton noticed Colbert dabbing his eyes with a tissue, she interrupted herself: "Are you crying?"

"So I better hush before you cry yourself to death and we can't finish the show," she said after singing a few more lines.

"Like a lot of Americans, I'm under a lot of stress right now, Dolly," Colbert said, "And you got under my trip wire right there, I'll tell you right there, that was pretty beautiful."

"We used to cry when Mama would sing though," Parton replied, validating the host's reaction. "Mama would cry, we'd cry…"

It's clear that Colbert was legitimately moved by Parton's impromptu performance, and his reaction was contagious. Many viewers took to social media to express that the clip made them a little misty too.

Keep reading for a few more of our favorite Dolly Parton interviews from over the years. And for the most famous person who shares your birth year, check out The Biggest Star Who's the Same Age as You.

Read the original article on Best Life.

1

Dedicating a song to Johnny Carson

Dolly Parton singing to Johnny Carson
Dolly Parton singing to Johnny Carson

When Steel Magnolias came out in 1989, Parton came onto Tonight Show and performed a song she wrote especially for the host at the time. "Now everybody knows my name, no matter where I go, but I never really made it till the Johnny Carson show," she sang. For more music legends, check out This Was the Hottest Pop Star the Year You Graduated.

2

Chatting with Jennifer Aniston

Jennifer Aniston interviewing Dolly Parton
Jennifer Aniston interviewing Dolly Parton

In 2019, Good Morning America had Parton and Jennifer Aniston interview each other after teaming up on the Netflix film Dumplin'. (Aniston starred and produced, while Parton wrote songs for the soundtrack.) Parton touched on the song that she's most often asked to sing ("9 to 5") and confirmed the story that she once entered a Dolly Parton drag lookalike contest and lost. To see more of her interviewer's greatest hits, Relive Jennifer Aniston's Last 25 Years in Hollywood, in Photos.

Explaining her style to Barbara Walters

Dolly Parton on The View in 1998
Dolly Parton on The View in 1998

"I think a lot of that came from not having anything as a kid," Parton said of her "larger than life" aesthetic on The View in 1998. "I felt like so much more inside than what I looked on the outside." For stars who haven't strayed far from home, check out 24 Celebrities Who Still Live in Their Hometown.

Telling Dan Rather why she's such a prolific writer

Dolly Parton Dan Rather interview
Dolly Parton Dan Rather interview

"At least. I mean, I got boxes, dresser drawers, chests, trunks, army trunks [full of songs]," Parton told CBS's Dan Rather back in 2004 when he brought up the stat that she's written 3,000 tracks. "I write something almost every day. Things just come to me—funny things, sad things, depending on my mood. I have to write that. It's like my therapy, it's like my doctor."

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