Dolly Parton tells Stephen Colbert her 3 favorite Dolly Parton songs, brings him to tears

Stephen Colbert cries for Dolly Parton
(Image credit: Screenshot/YouTube/The Late Show)

"Joining me tonight is legend who has written over 3,000 songs, won 10 Grammy Awards, and has a new book called Dolly Parton: Songteller," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show. He asked Parton about the title of her book. "I really think of myself as a songteller, because I write songs but I tell stories in my songs," she said. Parton said loves singing and performing for her fans, "but there's just something about writing songs, it's just kind of like my personal time with God, you know. I don't need anything other than me and whatever instrument I'm using at the time."

Colbert asked Parton if she remembered any of the songs her mother used to sing to her, and she said yes, all of them. "Mamma used to sing all of those old songs brought over from the Old World," Parton said, "and so many of those songs were sad — and as I say, some of them just plum pitiful. But I remember many songs. There was a song she used to sing called 'Bury Me Beneath the Willow.'"

She sang it, a cappella, and Colbert teared up. "Oh, are you crying?" Parton asked in the middle of the song. "So I'd better hush before you cry yourself to death and we can't finish the show," she teased him at the end. Colbert laughed: "Like a lot of Americans, I'm under a lot of stress right now, Dolly. And you got under my tripwire right there." Parton said she and her mom would also cry when she sang those songs, and they agreed that crying is good for cleansing your soul.

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"Everybody's got their favorite Dolly Parton songs," his being "Butterfly," Colbert said. "What are your Top 3 Dolly Parton songs?" Her top one was "The Coat of Many Colors," and there was also the deep cut "Down From Dover." And if we're going to be strict about it "Jolene" didn't make the cut. Watch below. Peter Weber

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.