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.
But the test of the songwriter part of a singer-songwriter is that the songs also work when other people perform them. Bob Dylan, for example, has a totally unique voice and totally unique songs. And yet, when other people perform them–from the Byrds to Garth Brooks– they still work!