You can celebrate the great lady on this special day by listening to her latest album, reading her book about her friendship with Patsy Cline, and streaming the autobiographical film “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”
On April 14, 1932, country music icon Loretta Lynn was born in Butcher Holler, Kentucky. You can celebrate the occasion by sampling her newly released album Still Woman Enough, ordering a copy of the great lady’s 2020 book Me & Patsy Kickin’ Up Dust — a memoir of her friendship with the late, great Patsy Cline, now available in paperback — and topping off the day by streaming the 1980 biographical film Coal Miner’s Daughter.
Still Woman Enough, Lynn’s 50th solo studio album, showcases her newly recorded reinterpretations of classic country songs and many of her own chart-topping hits. As Jon Freeman of Rolling Stone noted in his rave review: “Most of the arrangements here keep things simple, generally leaning on unamplified sounds to complement Lynn’s country-as-grits voice. Lynn’s cover of Hank Williams’ ‘I Saw the Light” is spiked with lively fiddle, while her takes on ‘Keep on the Sunny Side’ and ‘I’ll Be All Smiles Tonight’ do it how [The Carter Family] might have — just acoustic instruments and close harmonies. When a full band appears, as on the update of her ‘Honky Tonk Girl,” it hints at the sophistication of the Nashville Sound with piano and pedal steel, but never comes off as overly ornate.”
But wait, there’s more: Still Woman Enough — produced by John Carter Cash and Lynn’s daughter Patsy Lynn Russell — also features Lynn collaborating with guest artists Margo Price (“One’s on the Way”), Tanya Tucker (“You Ain’t Woman Enough”) and — for the title cut, the album’s only original song — Reba McEntire and Carrie Underwood.
Although she knew Patsy Cline for just two years before the legendary performer’s tragic death in 1963, Lynn continues to gratefully acknowledge her as equal parts influential mentor, surrogate older sibling, and soul-mate confidant. “I met her, and it was just like she was my sister,” Lynn told the New York Post last year. “It was like we’d been together forever.”
In 1961, Cline was nearly killed in a car accident. While she was in the hospital, Lynn appeared on Midnight Jamboree, a Nashville radio show that aired after the Grand Ole Opry, and dedicated a performance of Cline's hit “I Fall to Pieces” to the recuperating star. After hearing Lynn, Cline had her husband arrange for the fellow singer to pay a visit, and the two quickly became best friends.
Their close relationship was dramatized in the well-received 2019 Lifetime movie Patsy & Loretta directed by Kallie Khouri. As press notes for the film recalled: “When they first met, Patsy was already one of the biggest stars in country music while Loretta was just a coal miner’s daughter, starting off with little to her name but a $17 guitar. Instead of seeing Loretta as competition, Patsy took Loretta under her wings to help her make it in Nashville. Soon, they became close friends, touring together, bonding over their husband troubles, and commiserating on being females in the male-dominated music business.
“Then in 1963, the country music community was struck with a tragedy when at just age 30, Patsy died in a plane crash. Despite the devastating loss of her friend, Loretta continued on in the industry and is today known as the First Lady of Country Music. To this day, Loretta remains grateful to Patsy for her mentorship and, above all, friendship, as the country music trailblazer who paved the way for Loretta.”
In Me & Patsy Kickin’ Up Dust — which she co-wrote with her daughter, Patsy Lynn Russel, whom she named after her late friend — Lynn movingly describes the emotional experience she had while recording I Remember Patsy, her 1977 tribute album of Cline's greatest hits. The record was extremely successful — “She’s Got You,” the album’s first single, hit the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart — but Lynn wishes she could do it all over again.
“When I did that album, I was a nervous wreck,” Lynn writes, adding: “I should do another one because I was so nervous that I wasn’t singing good,” she says. “I could do better.”
Take two: Lynn’s new recording of “I Fall to Pieces,” one of Cline’s most enduringly popular hit singles, was released last year.
Not incidentally: Coal Miner’s Daughter, director Michael Apted’s critically acclaimed biographical film about Loretta Lynn, marked the 41st anniversary of its theatrical release last month. Sissy Spacek received a richly deserved Academy Award for her portrayal of Lynn in the movie, which co-starred Tommy Lee Jones as Doolittle Lynn, Patsy’s husband; Levon Helm as Ted Webb, her father; and Beverly D’Angelo as Patsy Cline. You can stream Coal Miner’s Daughter on Amazon Prime, iTunes, You Tube, Google Play and other platforms.