Loretta Lynn Honored for 50 Years in Biz
In 1960, Loretta Lynn was a young woman criss-crossing the country with her husband/manager, Mooney “Doo” Lynn, promoting her first record, “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl” to every country radio station they could find. Now, fifty years later, Loretta is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and an international icon of country music who has worked with scores of luminaries outside the country music realm, from members of the Rat Pack to rocker Jack White. “I love Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. I did their shows and had a ball with them,” she says now.
On Sept. 24, Loretta was honored for her 50 years in the business at the Coal Miner’s Daughter Museum in Hurricane Mills, Tenn. The museum houses a vast array of stage costumes, awards, letters from various presidents, copies of her best-selling book Coal Miner’s Daughter and a script from the movie of the same name. The museum is also home to personal artifacts, including a guitar made from the older pews of the Ryman Auditorium, Loretta’s daughters’ wedding dresses and a section devoted to Loretta’s sister and singer, Crystal Gayle.
The ceremony was held in an tent outside the museum, where a gathering of family, friends, and close business associates nibbled on catfish and barbecue hors d'oeuvres. Marty Stuart, Terri Clark, sister Crystal and Jack Greene were on hand to help celebrate, while video tributes from Dolly Parton, Martina McBride, Kellie Pickler, Keith Anderson and Big Kenny were shown. Several presenters, including Marty, John Carter Cash (son of Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash) and Ray Walker of the The Jordanaires, praised Loretta’s songs, vocal style and personal character throughout her career, as well as her many accomplishments.
Loretta’s elegant humility and gratitude for her success were on display. “Honey, I look at these awards like they are somebody else’s so that I can stay grounded. I’m proud of my awards and every one I get, I’m more proud of. You just don’t forget where you come from. I just 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.”
She has also never forgotten those who got her where she is today. “They are my friends, not my fans," she says. "I’ve met them over and over. I still enjoy going onstage. I enjoy it more now than I used to. Now, I go when I want to and I really enjoy it.”
Loretta also revealed a little known fact about her signature song, “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” “I had six more verses to that song,” Loretta said. “My producer, Owen Bradley, looked at me and said, ‘Loretta, there’s already been one “El Paso” so there will never be another one.’ He said, ‘Go take about six verses off of that song,’ and that’s what I had to do.”
Loretta, along with Miranda Lambert and Sheryl Crow, resurrected the classic song as part of Coal Miner’s Daughter: A Tribute to Loretta Lynn. The album features several artists covering Loretta’s classics, including Alan Jackson, Martina and Carrie Underwood. Of her country co-singer on “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Loretta says, “I love Miranda. I think she’s just feisty enough to do what she wants to do. She’s a great little singer. A great country singer. Now, I’m not sayin’ pop, cause me and her either one ain’t gonna go pop,” she says with a laugh. “If we do it will shock me.”
Not that the music icon is against the pop-country sounds that are in vogue right now on country radio. She loves all of country music's incarnations.
“I love the old country music, don’t get me wrong, but I also love the new pop country," she allows. "I like the smooth sound of it. I’m not saying I can do it, but I love it. I love the old country and I love the new.”