On Tuesday, the country legend, 74, appeared on The Late Show when she reflected on folk songs her mother, Avie Lee, used to sing to her as a child. Parton briefly sang portions of one tragic song titled "Bury Me Beneath the Willow," bringing tears to the late-night TV host's eyes.
As he teared up, Colbert, 56, laughed in shock, admitting he had "goosebumps" while Parton continued singing. He then began wiping his eyes with a tissue.
"I better hush before you cry yourself to death and we can't finish the show," Parton joked, to which Colbert said with a laugh: "Like a lot of Americans, I'm under a lot of stress right now, Dolly!"
"You got under my tripwire right there," he said. "That was pretty beautiful."
— A Late Show (@colbertlateshow) October 21, 2020
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"We used to sing when momma would sing. Momma would cry, we'd cry — those old songs were just amazing," said Parton. Colbert then added: "Isn't it funny that sometimes there's nothing happier than a cry?"
"Yeah, I think it cleanses your soul," agreed Parton. "Water's good to wash it out. That's what tears are for, I think."
On the Late Show's Twitter page, Colbert joked about the moment, writing along with the clip, ".@DollyParton sings 'Bury Me Beneath The Willow' and I think somebody is cutting onions."
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Parton had her own moment of emotion while recording at least one of the tracks on her new holiday album, A Holly Dolly Christmas, out now. The country legend previously said in a statement that recording "Mary, Did You Know?" especially moved her.
Parton's last holiday album, Home for Christmas, was released in 1990.
"I got very emotional recording 'Mary, Did You Know?' It’s the sweetest song about beautiful things being born out of unexpected situations and that’s a message we all need to hear now more than ever," she wrote on Instagram in August of the "heartfelt" rendition.