I nominate Dolly Parton for the Nobel Prize.
Watching the country star discuss her new book, "Storyteller: My Life in Lyrics" on "The Stephen Colbert Show," I realized that she's had a songwriting and singing career equal to that of Bob Dylan, who won the Nobel Literature Prize in 2016.
As the book's title reflects, Parton's songs tell stories of love, faith, humor and endurance. Many of her songs give voice to her mountain culture, struggling to hold on to its traditions in the contemporary world. Like Dylan, Parton has created great poetry.
Recalling her mother singing old folk songs to her when she was a child, Parton made Colbert cry with a spontaneous a cappella performance of the Carter Family classic "Bury Me Beneath the Willow." Parton's work shows the authenticity of those timeless folk songs.
Parton touched my heart by looking back on beginning her career on "The Porter Wagoner Show." When I was an adolescent boy, I had a crush on the shy young Dolly from watching Wagoner's show on Saturday afternoons. I liked old Porter, with his shellacked pompadour and wild Nudie suits, but Dolly's talent glowed on a higher level.
She's gone on from that modest start to fashion one of America's greatest musical careers. Her majestic achievements have been matched by Loretta Lynn, who rose to stardom from a similar childhood in the impoverished Appalachian Mountains. Like Parton, Lynn with "Coal Miner's Daughter" and other songs has achieved great literature.
As Parton discussed with Colbert a new Christmas album that features a guest appearance by another major star, Willie Nelson, I hoped that Parton would record again with Lynn. They put out an album several years ago with the late Tammy Wynette. A new Lynn-Parton endeavor would be a wonderful gift to America and the world.