Loretta Lynn’s always sings it like it is


It’s easy to dismiss Loretta Lynn’s subversive side.

After nearly 50 years recording and touring, the plain-spoken singer-songwriter who grew up poor in Kentucky and delivered four kids by her 18th birthday has taken her place in the pantheon of country-music legends.

The acclaimed 1980 film “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” based on Lynn’s best-selling 1976 autobiography — she followed it with the best-selling “Still Woman Enough” in 1982 .– cemented Lynn and her famously rocky relationship with late husband Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn in the public’s consciousness.

Lynn currently is on a limited tour nationwide.

Lynn’s songs are populated by blunt women with blunt opinions . . . about a range of taboo subjects, including their soused-up men and the hussies who flirt with them: “If ya don’t want to go to Fist City/Ya better detour around my town/’Cause I’ll grab you by the hair a the head/and I’ll lift you off a the ground,” she warns a rival in her 1968 No.1 hit, “Fist City.”

“If Doo came home drinking, I’d write a song about ‘Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind),’ an earnest but direct Lynn, 72, said earlier this month in a telephone interview. “I just wrote around the truth and laid it out there.

“And when I did, there was millions of women, the same things happened to them.”

But words like “legend” obscure Lynn’s edgier side. Lynn, who has recorded 52 top 10 hits since 1962, 16 of which made it to No. 1, has had numerous songs banned by U.S. radio stations. One song details the liberation of a wife and mother who discovers the birth-control pill. Another describes the suspicions divorcees often face. The latter, the sassy “Rated X,” was covered by the garage-rock duo The White Stripes. Guitarist and lead singer Jack White worked with Lynn to produce 2004’s Grammy-winning “Van Lear Rose,” an album that she proudly described as “even more country than my first country recording in Nashville.”

The banned songs are “all true,” Lynn averred. As for 1972’s “The Pill,” the mother of six said with a laugh. “They’re all (taking) it. They just wasn’t doing like me, wasn’t just coming out and saying it in public. I thought, ‘Gee, what’s wrong with these people? They’re the ones that got a problem, not me.’ And that’s how I felt.”

Lynn doesn’t shy away from much in her music, not even the 1996 death of Doo, her husband of nearly 50 years. In “Miss Being Mrs.,” she plunges into the heart of grief with a single image: “I took off my wedding band,/And put it on my right hand,/I miss being Mrs. tonight.”

“It’s still hard that he’s gone,” she said. “I don’t try to dwell on it. I try to keep moving. You have to. There’s nothing else for you to do, so you have to.”

But Lynn said her fans deserve to know it all. That’s why she wrote two intimate autobiographies. The books detail long nights on the road away from the family, as well as Doo’s drinking and womanizing, which included leaving her alone to deliver a son on her own.

“If you’re going to be out in the public, and the public is making a living for you, you owe ’em so much,” Lynn said. “I haven’t done anything in my life that I’m ashamed of or that I worry about. And my personal life has really not been that personal.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: