Loretta Lynn

While an unsettlingly large number of Barbie-fied female country singers today study hard to manufacture grit and twang, Loretta Lynn came about hers genuinely. The 69-year-old Lynn was born dirt-poor in the backwoods of Kentucky, married at 13 and was the mother of four by 17. She began singing professionally in the late 1950s and went on to become a hugely successful performer both as a solo act and with duet partner Conway Twitty.

Tracks like "You're Lookin' at Country," "Don't Come Home a Drinkin' (With Lovin' on Your Mind)," "Fist City," "You Ain't Woman Enough" and "One's On The Way" became standards. And the pro-birth-control "The Pill" brought on a firestorm -- banned by radio for being too controversial, but embraced by listeners for its boldness and honesty. Oddly, for an artist who wrote and sang so many strong-woman anthems, her nearly 50-year marriage to Doolittle Lynn was pockmarked by his incessant bouts of drinking, cheating and abuse. Her second volume of memoirs, Still Woman Enough, relates one incident in which he drunkenly smashed more than 100 jars of green beans she'd been painstakingly bottling all day.

Thanks in large part to Sissy Spacek's Oscar-winning performance, the 1980 biopic of her autobiography, Coal Miner's Daughter, made Lynn instantly recognizable even to noncountry fans, and she's still got a large hipster following. Luckily for her, two of these hipsters are Jack and Meg White -- the White Stripes dedicated White Blood Cells to her, and Lynn has even opened several of their shows. What's more, her upcoming record, Vanlear Rose, will be produced by Mr. White (presumably in between bar punch-ups with Detroit musicians) and should give a career spike to the country queen.

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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero