Loretta Lynn: Happy 73rd (75th? 79th?) Birthday!
She's been secretive about the year, but on April 14th 1932, or '36, or maybe '38, Loretta Webb was born in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, and grew up the daughter of a coal miner first in a rustic mountain home with no electricity or water, and later in a four-room house down in the holler.
At the age of 13 she married Doolittle Lynn, a known philanderer and alcoholic, and they shared a 50-year notoriously rocky but loving marriage that would provide much fodder for her songs. As Loretta has put it, "He never hit me one time that I didn't hit him back twice."
Loretta had four of their six children together by the time she was 19, and at 24, Doo bought her her first guitar, which, as she reported in a 2010 NPR interview with Terry Gross, she taught herself after moving with her husband to Washington. "I just sat down with my guitar. I was outside and leaning up against the toilet in Washington State. And I sat there and wrote 'Honky Tonk Girl' and 'Whispering Sea.'" Within a year, she had cut her first record, and by the early 60s was an integral part of the Nashville scene.
Whatever her age now, she has an impressive list of accomplishments to her name. Her discography consists of 54 studio albums, 15 compilation albums, one tribute album, 88 singles, seven music videos, and four B-sides. Of those studio albums, something like 44 hit the Top 20 in the Country Charts, and by my calculation, 62 of her singles have also topped the Charts. Perhaps the most credible person to provide testimonials on such topics, she's sung songs about drinkin' and cheatin' ("Don't Come Home A'Drinkin'," "You Ain't Woman Enough," "Fist City,"), family planning or lack thereof ("The Pill," "One's on the Way"), double standards for men and women ("Rated X") and the Vietnam War ("Dear Uncle Sam"), also giving her the distinction of being probably one of the most censored artists in country radio this side of David Allan Coe.
And so, in honor of the Grande Dame of Country Music, 10 Loretta Lynn songs on her birthday.
Coal Miner's Daughter
You Ain't Woman Enough (To Take My Man)