Sunday October 18, 2015
Loretta Lynn with Maren Morris
“To make it in this business, you either have to be first, great or different,” says living legend LORETTA LYNN. “And I was the first to ever go into Nashville, singin’ it like the women lived it."
In addition to being “first,” she was also “great” and “different.” Loretta’s instantly recognizable delivery is one of the greatest country-music voices in history. As for “different,” no songwriter has a more distinctive body of work. In lyrics such as “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’” and “Your Squaw Is on the War Path,” she refused to be any man’s doormat. She challenged female rivals in “You Ain’t Woman Enough” and “Fist City.” She showed tremendous blue-collar pride in “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and “You’re Lookin’ at Country.” She is unafraid of controversy, whether the topic is sex (“Wings Upon Your Horns”), divorce (“Rated X”), alcohol (“Wouldn’t It Be Great”), war (“Dear Uncle Sam”), or “The Pill,” her celebration of sexual liberation, which were among some of her songs to be banned by many radio stations. Like the lady herself, Loretta Lynn’s songs shoot from the hip.
“Most of my songs were from the women’s point of view,” Loretta wrote in her best-selling autobiography. “That’s who I’m singing about and singing to during my shows. And the girls know it….Most of my fan club is women, which is how I want it.”
Among Loretta’s finest moments on disc are such empowering female statements as “You Wanna Give Me Lift” (1970), “I Wanna Be Free” (1971), “We’ve Come a Long Way Baby” (1978), “Hey Loretta” (1973), “Love Is the Foundation” (1973), and the hilarious “One’s on the Way” (1972). She memorably romanced and sassed Conway Twitty in a number of hugely popular duet performances in 1970-1982.
In 1967, she began picking up various Female Vocalist of the Year trophies. She and Conway also won a long string of Duet of the Year awards beginning in 1971. The industry showered her with BMI songwriting honors, Gold record plaques, a Grammy Award and other accolades. In 1972, she became the first woman in history to win the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year trophy.
By the mid-1970s, Loretta Lynn was an undeniable superstar. She was featured on the covers of Newsweek (1973), Redbook (1974), and many other mainstream national publications. With her kooky humor, scrambled grammar, and unpretentious manner, she became a TV talk-show favorite.
Loretta continued to dominate the charts as the ‘70s drew to a close, scoring major hits with 1976’s “Somebody Somewhere,” 1977’s “Out of My Head and Back in My Bed,” and 1979’s “I’ve Got a Picture of Us on My Mind.” Her 1982 smash hits “I Lie” and “Making Love from Memory” carried her into the new decade.
One of the most remarkable things about Loretta Lynn is how she renews her creativity time and again. Two years after she was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1983, she was back on the charts with the hit, “Heart Don’t Do This to Me.” In 1988, the year she entered the Country Music Hall of Fame, Loretta recorded with k.d. lang. She earned a Gold record in 1994 with Honky Tonk Angels, a trio CD with Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette.
She was inducted into the national Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York in 2008. She may have won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010, but Loretta Lynn’s life is still a work in progress. She’s still out there on the road, still writing songs and still recording them as only she can.
“I ain’t a star – a star is something up in the night sky,” says Loretta Lynn. “People say to me, ‘You’re a legend.’ I’m not a legend. I’m just a woman.”