Dolly Parton brought Stephen Colbert to tears on Tuesday by singing the old bluegrass ballad Bury Me Beneath The Willow.
The 74-year-old appeared The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and spontaneously broke into the song that is about a woman whose fiancé left her.
As she sang a few verses, Stephen took off his glasses and dabbed his eyes, prompting her to stop for a moment and ask, “Are you crying?”
I Still Get It: Dolly Parton brought Stephen Colbert to tears this Tuesday by singing the old bluegrass ballad Bury Me Beneath The Willow
She was a consummate performer, however, and after quickly asking the question, she immediately got back into the song.
Dolly introduced Bury Me Beneath The Willow as one of the songs her mother Avie Lee would sing in the house.
Avie Lee, who raised 12 children with Dolly’s father Robert in rural Tennessee, died in 2003 at the age of 80.
“Mommy was singing all those old songs brought over from the old world,” Dolly told Stephen as he appeared on his show this week.
Country legend: The 74-year-old appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and spontaneously broke into the song about a woman whose fiancé left her
Thoughtful: While she was singing a few verses, Stephen took off his glasses and dabbed his eyes, prompting her to stop and ask, “Are you crying?”
“But Mommy was a good singer too and she sang a cappella all the time, and so many of those songs were sad, and like I said, some of them were just really pathetic.”
Dolly recalled, “There was a song she sang called Bury Me Beneath The Willow. It was about a girl getting married and her boyfriend left her at the altar, whatever. So of course she died. She committed suicide, I suppose. ‘
The Jolene singer then began in the chorus of the song, “Bury me under the willow, under the weeping willow, where he can know where I’m sleeping and maybe he’ll weep for me,” and sang a few verses.
When she stopped, she looked dead: “So I better shut up before you scream yourself and we can’t finish this show.”
But: she was a consummate performer and after she quickly asked the question, she immediately started back in the song
‘We would cry’: As Stephen wiped his eyes, Dolly said modestly, ‘I know you don’t really cry, but we used to cry when mama would sing
As Stephen wiped his eyes, Dolly said modestly, “I know you don’t really cry, but we used to cry when Mom would sing. Mama would cry. We would cry. And those old songs were just great. ‘
She was on the late-night program to promote her book Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life In Lyrics, due out November 17.
Bury Me Beneath The Willow is an anthem first recorded in 1927 and sung by acts such as the Carter Family, Almeda Riddle and the Stanley Brothers.
Dolly herself performed the song on her ABC variety show in the 1970s as a trio with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris.
Hook Up: She was on the late-night program to promote her book Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life In Lyrics, due out November 17
In the 1970s, she gushed about Avie Lee to Family Circle magazine: “I owe her a lot when it comes to independence.”
She shed some light on her background: “Momma was now the daughter of a fundamentalist minister and her people were strict. A woman was not allowed to dance, wear light clothes. She couldn’t even cut her hair. Well, Mum married Dad when she was 15 – he was 17 – and the first thing she did was cut her hair. ‘
Dolly explained, “She was so young, she really grew up with us kids, and when she found herself, she taught us to be ourselves no matter what happened.”
She said, “Life was hard, but Mommy made it look beautiful. She didn’t have much to work with, but she always encouraged the imagination. ‘
Side by Side: Dolly introduced Bury Me Beneath The Willow as one of the songs her mom Avie Lee would sing around the house
Remember When: Dolly previously performed Bury Me Beneath The Willow on her ABC variety show in the 1970s as a trio with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris
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