Loretta Lynn (Webb) of Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, born in 1932, blazed a path through the world and made her stamp for everyone to see. I’ve included a list of her numerous accomplishments, which are considerable.
“I said years ago that I thought she was the greatest female singer-songwriter of the 20th century. I still believe that.” – Jack White (Founder of White Stripes)
“I am forever grateful that Loretta Lynn was here for us to tell her stories, sing her songs, widen the path, and make us feel like we can do our art, be moms, and even have some fun when we want to, too.” – Amanda Shires
“Today, my world changed, and it will never be the same again. My hero got her wings, and it’s been a day filled with tears. Many memories, so much gratitude, and thanking my God above for blessing me first with her music and her guidance through the perils of the music world way before we ever met. I looked up to Loretta always.” – Tanya Tucker
“it’s safe to say I wouldn’t be making country music today if it weren’t for Loretta Lynn.” – Margo Price
The 1980 musical film Coal Miner’s Daughter was based on her life.
The movie won an Oscar for Sissy Spacek and catapulted her career forward.
Lynn received awards from both the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music as a duet partner and an individual artist. She was nominated 18 times for a Grammy Award and won three times. As of 2022, Lynn was the most awarded female country recording artist and the only female ACM Artist of the Decade (the 1970s). Lynn scored 24 No. 1 hit singles and 11 number-one albums. She toured for 57 years. Now that’s longevity, my friend! Here are just a smattering of the tributes this bad-ass mama elicited form her fans over over the years.
Linnea Crowther writes in Loretta’s obit for Legacy, “The Lynns started out by personally mailing copies of the record to radio stations. When that didn’t work – none of the stations were playing it – they launched a road trip, driving to radio stations to give them the record in person. In the book “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Lynn remembered: “We went down the West Coast, too poor to stay in motels, sleeping in the car and eating baloney and cheese sandwiches. When we got near a radio station, I’d hop in the back of the car and change into my dress. Then we’d go inside the radio station.” There, she would hand over her record, pester the DJ, talk on the air if they’d let her – whatever it took.”
According to AllMusic and writer Stephen Thomas Erlewine; “Few performers in country music have proved as influential and iconic as Loretta Lynn. At a time when women usually took a back seat to men in Nashville, Lynn was a voice of strength, independence, and sometimes defiance, writing and singing songs that spoke to the concerns of working-class women with unapologetic honesty. She could sing of her hardscrabble childhood (“Coal Miner’s Daughter”), deal with the realities of relationships (“Fist City,” “You Ain’t Woman Enough”), deliver proto-feminist anthems (“The Pill”), and explore mature romance (her series of duets with Conway Twitty) and sound perfectly authentic at every turn. Lynn’s voice, strong but naturalistic and matched to tough, lively honky tonk arrangements, reinforced the home truths of her songs, and her success blazed trails for other female country artists. As a member of the Grand Ol’ Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame, she’s been honored by the country music establishment while still doing things her own way. She was a frequent presence on the country charts from 1960 to 1981, and even as tastes changed and her record sales faded, she continued to be a potent live attraction and a major influence on other artists. And at the age of 72, Lynn was discovered by a new generation of music fans when alternative rock star Jack White, a longtime fan, produced her 2004 album, Van Lear Rose. It wasn’t Lynn’s last hurrah, however. A few years later, she entered the studio with daughter Patsy Lynn Russell and John Carter Cash to record hundreds of songs that would come out as a series of albums in the 2010s and beyond, starting with 2016’s Full Circle.”
The main takeaway from Loretta’s ascension to icon status is her talent to tell the unvarnished truth. No matter the consequences. No matter the outcome. Loretta could tell it like it was. Few humans have that capacity. She changed the game in music so that many others could. She saw the simple things of life and changed them for the better—no finer example of American womanhood than Loretta Lynn.
Yes, when you mention Loretta Lynn, you’re talking about one of the true originals in music. Period. She was influenced by Patsy Cline, who was a good friend. And she went on to impact so many musical artists of every stripe because, as the saying goes. Ms. Lynn didn’t give—a damn about whose feelings she hurt. She was a no-nonsense rebel from the get-go. Her best tracks sum up her persona: Fist City, Coal Miner’s Daughter, You’re Lookin’ at Country, One’s On The Way, The Pill, Miss Being Mrs., And countless others. I’ll close with a poem by one of America’s best poets, Mr. Walt Whitman. This verse from Pioneers! On Pioneers! Pretty much incapsulates Loretta Lynn.
We detachments steady throwing,
Down the edges, through the passes, up the mountains steep,
Conquering, holding, daring, venturing as we go the unknown ways,
Pioneers! O pioneers!