The word ‘legend’ is tossed around like a football in a grand final, but it very rarely lands on the head of a person who deserves it. I have probably been guilty of using the moniker out of context, myself. However, when I think of true country music legends, one name is there in the top 10….probably top 5 that can’t be disputed….the old Coalminer’s daughter, Loretta Lynn. Like Willie Nelson, she has been written off in this life about 5,000 times…said to be dead or dying, but strangely enough, they both end up on a stage singing and playing to sold out crowds and they produce more albums than they have produced children….and they both have had a few of those.
We have lost a few legends over the last few years, but Loretta and Willie and a couple of others are still going strong. What both Loretta and Willie do best is a combination of songs on their albums. They tend to do a few of their own classic songs or other legends’ songs and then they write new material, usually co-writing with other legends or someone from a totally different generation, and/or genre.
The opening track on this track and the title of the album is probably one of my favourite songs of the year. That is a big call, considering how many wonderful songs have been released this year, but lyrically, it is just so spot on. No doubt, it is more than a bit autobiographical. The song has been recorded twice before by Loretta but this is a much different cut. There is a mix of traditional country, bluegrass, and a few other types of country thrown in here….the classics are probably two of Loretta’s best songs, Coalminer’s daughter and Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ – at least, they are two of my favourites.
Loretta gained a new audience when the Sissy Spacek/Tommy Lee Jones movie of her life came out quite a few years ago now, winning Sissy a well deserved Oscar for her portrayal of L.L. She gained yet another audience when she went down another avenue with her amazing album with Jack White from the White Stripes (Van Lear Rose), and her willingness to write with young and different composers.
Thus, her music is not confined to one audience, most country music lovers and indeed other music fans will find something on her albums or in what she has to say to admire and treasure. There is not much that Loretta hasn’t done in music circles in her 86 and a half years. Probably, Loretta would reckon that she hasn’t scratched the surface.
There is only one song on the album that Loretta didn’t write or co-write and that was Lulie Vars, a murder ballad that our own Lachlan Bryan and Andrew Wrigglesworth would have wished that they had written. It is co-produced by John Carter Cash (I think that the name may be familiar with y’all) the son of John and June and Loretta’s daughter, Patsy Lynn Russell, who was named after you know who.
The songs are fightin’, lovin’, hard times, good times songs, just as you would expect from Loretta. She throws in a couple of curve balls, as usual and she doesn’t mince words. There are a few repeats from other albums, not always her best known songs, just sleepers that are re-done and re-mastered. God doesn’t make mistakes is from the Van Lear Rose album, for example.
Loretta broke a lot of ground back in the early 60’s, along with Patsy Cline and continued to shake things up during her almost 60 year career. Sometimes, you get the feeling that she took up living for both her and Patsy after she passed away tragically in 1963. Her feisty, sassy, no holds barred kind of honesty in her songs and what she has said off stage and off record has won her the respect and the hearts of many generations. A lot of women would not have been the successes that they are today if it had not been for Loretta.
Her voice is still strong and proud and she still sings like she believes in everything that she writes and records. Her songs still tell a good story, they still hold up through the test of time and tide and she is still gathering new fans of all ages and from all walks of life. It is almost worth buying an album just for the sake of seeing what fabulous dress she is going to wear on the cover. You shouldn’t judge an album by its cover, but we all know what we are going to get when you listen to a Loretta album. A pinch of controversy, a blend of old and new and a big shot of reality from one of the true legends of country music.
Wouldn’t It Be Great?
I’m Dying For Someone
Another Bridge to Burn
Ain’t no time to go
God Makes No Mistakes
These Ole Blues
My Angel Mother
Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’
The Big Man