Country Music legend Loretta Lynn dies, age 90 ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter

Country Music legend Loretta Lynn dies, age 90 ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Loretta Lynn, who rose from a difficult upbringing to become the most culturally significant singer-songwriter in country music history, has passed away. She was 90.

Lynn’s family said she died Tuesday at her home in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee.

“Our precious mother, Loretta Lynn, passed away peacefully this morning (October 4) while she slept on her beloved ranch,” her family said in a statement provided to USA TODAY.

Lynn was a mother of four when she launched her career in the early 1960s, and while many of her songs are filled with specific details of her totally unique life, they had universal appeal. She wrote about intimate matters, from her difficult and exhausting childhood to fights with her husband, but she managed to strike a collective nerve.

Without ever mentioning politics or women’s liberation, her successes of the 1960s and 1970s helped change entrenched notions about gender roles. “Rated ‘X'” and “Don’t Come Home A Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)” were personal pleas, not political treatises, seeking an end to double standards.

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Lynn did all of this at a time when women were most often the voices through which men’s words and melodies were heard. She was the first prominent Nashville woman to write and record her own material and she was one of the first female music stars to generate her own hits.

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Loretta Lynn in Nashville, Tennessee, on February 10, 2016. Lynn, the daughter of a Kentucky coal miner who became a country music mainstay, died on October 4 at her home in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. She was 90 years old.
When she was set to receive the Kennedy Center Honor from her in 2003, Lynn told The (Nashville) Tennessee, part of the USA TODAY Network, that she wasn’t sure why people found her rocking songs so remarkable. culture.

“Cultural contributions? What is that?” she asked. “I was just saying it like I was living it. People would flip that, but I went right down the middle.

She was the first woman named Entertainer of the Year at both of the genre’s top award shows, first by the Country Music Association in 1972 and then by the Academy of Country Music three years later.

In her 1970 smash hit “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Lynn told the story of her upbringing, which helped reach her widest audience yet.

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We were poor but we had love / That’s the only thing daddy made sure of / He shoveled coal to make a poor man’s dollar,” she sang.

“The Coal Miner’s Daughter,” also the title of her 1976 book, was made into a 1980 movie of the same name. Lynn’s portrayal of Sissy Spacek earned her an Academy Award, and the film was also nominated for best picture.

Long after her commercial heyday, Lynn won two Grammy Awards in 2005 for her album “Van Lear Rose,” a collaboration with rock star Jack White that featured 13 songs she wrote, including “Portland, Oregon” about a a drunk night

“She is the most important singer-songwriter of the 20th century,” White told The Tennessean at the time.

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Born Loretta Webb, the second of eight children, she claimed her birthplace was Butcher Holler, near the coal mining town of Van Lear, in the mountains of eastern Kentucky. However, there really wasn’t a Butcher Holler. She made up the name for the purposes of the song, based on the names of the families who lived there.

Before Lynn’s rise to country music royalty, she didn’t even appear on most maps. For Lynn, it was a place of hardship, poverty, and danger.

Her father, Ted, worked the night shift at the Consolidated Number Five mine, while her mother, Clara, cared for the eight children and read books by a kerosene lamp until he got home. In her first autobiography, Lynn remembered her father’s work as something heroic. “He kept his family alive by breaking his own body,” she wrote.

Her dad played the banjo, her mom played the guitar, and she grew up on the songs of the Carter family.

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When Lynn was 13 years old, she met Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn at a pie dinner. He was 21 years old, had served in the army and already had a reputation for being wild. The two married in January 1948, when she was 15, and he got a job in the coal mine.

Her union was problematic from the beginning: he left her for another woman that same year, when she Lynn was four months pregnant, then returned before she had her first child, but they remained married until her death. in 1996.

He bought her a Sears & Roebuck guitar as a gift from her, encouraging her to play and sing, and she always credited him for her musical career. At first, she sounded too much like her idol, Kitty Wells, to be called original. But she had talent and conviction, and her forceful and truthful songwriting began to set her apart from other country music singers. She wrote her first hit single, “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl”, released in 1960.

The Lynns traveled the US and visited radio stations in the hope that the single would get airplay. (It peaked at number 14 on Billboard’s country singles chart.) When they arrived in Nashville in the fall, Lynn made a guest appearance on the “Grand Ole Opry.” She was 28 years old.

Audience reaction at the Opry was immediately positive, and Nashville saw something different in Lynn: a singer-songwriter who deviated significantly from the prissy, almost Victorian model of the time.

She scored top 10 hits with “Blue Kentucky Girl” and “Wine, Women and Song,” but it wasn’t until 1966 that she was recognized as a major writer. In that breakout year, Lynn released “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)” and “Don’t Come Home A Drinkin’.” The first was a proud rebuke to someone who threatened to break up a marriage, the second a strong and fun part of life. Both were big hits.

“At the time, female singers were doing I really love you, but I came in fighting over my man because I was seeing someone else,” she said in a 1980 “Penthouse” magazine interview.

Lynn wrote and recorded songs that weighed in on women’s roles in a changing America, including “The Pill,” which celebrated birth control as a sexual and social equalizer. Her songs insisted on something akin to fair play between the sexes, reaching a segment of the female population that found little point in marches and bra burnings.

“She was burning down walls between men and women,” White said.

Lynn also teamed up with singer Conway Twitty to form one of the most popular duos in country music with hits like “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man” and “After the Fire is Gone,” which earned them a Grammy Award.

She moved to Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, outside of Nashville, in the 1990s, where she set up a ranch complete with a replica of her childhood home and a museum that is a popular roadside tourist stop. .

In October 2010, Garth Brooks sang with Lynn at a Grammy Awards-sponsored celebration of his 50 years in music.

“You just don’t forget where you come from,” he said at the celebration. “All I do is close my eyes and I know where I’m from. I go back to that little one-room cabin where I lived until I was 11 years old.”

His was an unprecedented story that will be told but not repeated.

“God gives you life and you do with it what you want,” she told The Tennessean. “If it goes wrong, it’s up to you. If it works out for you, that’s also up to you. But still, from the moment I was born, I think she probably held my hand or held me in her arms. Otherwise, she would never have made it.

Contributor: Elise Brisco, USA TODAY, and Kristin M. Hall, The Associated Press


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