Listen to this track from pioneering recording artist, country music deity, and famed coal miner’s daughter Loretta Lynn. It’s her self-penned “Miss Being Mrs.”, a tune that typifies Lynn’s genius – an ability to speak to her own situation, and to those of her audience at the same time. The song is taken from her 2004 career renaissance album Van Lear Rose, another Grammy-winning release after a 45-year recording career, and produced by guitarist, songwriter, and Loretta Lynn fan Jack White who plays on all of the tracks as well.
Loretta Lynn was a trailblazer in country music, and in the field of singer-songewriters when such a role for women was a rarity. From her coal mining centered childhood in Kentucky, to the Grand Ol’ Opry, to the top of the country music charts for decades after, Lynn had to create her own template for success, along with her husband Doo who served as her manager and promoter. The couple were married when Loretta was in her mid-teens, and they stayed together for 50 years and 6 children, despite alleged rockiness of the relationship. Doo died in 1996.
Her relationship and her personal experiences in general informed a lot of her songwriting. The extreme ups and downs in her songs are tied together by one commonality; that they were autobiographical, yet infused with empathy too, empathy for other women in her same situation. She was able to build an audience on this basis, with an honest and emotional core to her music that resonated with her listeners. Most songwriters try for their whole careers to attain this without sounding as if they’re trying too hard. Loretta Lynn does it as a matter of course.
And 8 years after the death of her husband, and at age 69, her ability to write songs with this thread in place is just as strong, as you can tell. This one is about Loretta Lynn missing her husband, and missing that sense of identity as a wife. But it’s also about all women who share in that situation. That is her genius.
For more information about Loretta Lynn, be sure to stop by LorettaLynn.com.