Dolly Parton, like other country singers, is self-deprecating enough to allow herself to be turned into a caricature. But Dolly is a great artist. She is a master of those “ancient tones” that come out of mountain music, and she can also bring those same qualities into her contemporary song-writing. Last night, she was the rather unlikely singing coach and song provider for “American Idol,” which, one would think, would prove a tough challenge for these young, pop, rock-tinged singers.
And Dolly Parton is the same way. The “Idols” did quite well with her songs, I thought, in some cases rendering them in non-country styles but the strength of the songs still came through. (I’m thinking particularly of David Cook’s alterna-arrangement of “Sparrow.” For a non-“Idol” example, listen to what Whitney Houston does with “I Will Always Love You.”)