How Loretta's music changed my life...
If I had to choose my all-time favorite singer in country music, it would be Loretta Lynn. I like Loretta the most because she was the very first country star I remember hearing (and LIKING). I remember the very first country song I heard on the radio; that song was "Coal Miner's Daughter."
I wasn't always a country music fan; in fact, until I was 9 1/2 years old I listened to groups like Steppenwolf, Spirit, The Mamas and The Papas, and The Monkees. But one Saturday afternoon, as I was listening to the radio, I happened to be fiddling with the dial, to see "what else was on," and I heard a beautiful Southern female voice that was nothing like I had heard on my rock music records. The voice was crystal-clear, and the music complimented that voice perfectly. It was the perfect antidote to my rock-ravaged ears.
I eventually started to listen to this "other" music, which, I learned, was called "country-western," and..I liked what I heard. It didn't matter whether a man or woman was singing; I just liked the sound of the music, period. But nobody intrigued me more than that woman who was singing about a coal miner's daughter--Loretta Lynn.
I learned from reading that Loretta Lynn was already an established star in country music and was a member of the Grand Ole Opry. I learned that she was born in a tiny eastern Kentucky town and that she was, in reality, a TRUE coal miner's daughter: her daddy, Melvin, had worked in the coal mines. That song, "Coal Miner's Daughter," was a tribute to her Kentucky childhood. I also learned that she had married young (13) and had four children by the time she was 18 years old. Her husband, Oliver (affectionately known as "Doo"), was instrumental in getting her country music career off the ground. (He liked the way she sang to her babies, and he wanted the whole world to hear her.) She was well on her way to becoming a country legend by the time I had heard her sing for the first time.
However, there was ONE itty-bitty problem: Karla. My twin sister.
She HATED country music with a purple passion. In fact, she hated it so much she couldn't STAND being in the same room with me whenever I had my country records playing. She used to say mean things to me. "HOW can you listen to THAT!?" she asked. "EASY!" I replied, hoping she'd let it go at that.
Loretta Lynn, bless her, got her revenge on Karla: Karla heard the song, "Coal Miner's Daughter," and she ended up liking it almost as much as me.
In September of 1976 we heard that Loretta Lynn was going to be in concert in the next town, and, of course, both Karla and I wanted to go. Well, we went, and it was a good concert; however, we didn't really enjoy ourselves, thanks to the cruelties of our second-oldest sister. All through the concert she kept making derogatory comments about Loretta, and we ended up leaving before the show was over. We were NOT amused, especially me.
We (Karla and myself) saw her again four years later in our hometown, and it was a much better time (seeing that Kitty wasn't around to tease us!). She did a shorter than planned show (thanks to the crazy antics of a fan, who ended up being arrested), but she was gracious enough to sign autographs. I remember I wore a Loretta Lynn shirt, and I was a bundle of nerves when I walked on up to where she was. I told Loretta that I was her biggest fan and I was in her fan club, and she said,"I know you are, darlin'". I started crying right then as she gave me a big bear hug and signed my picture I'd purchased earlier in the day. She was just as sweet as could be, and I will never forget that moment as long as I live. she was a big superstar, yet she was as country and as down to earth as the next person. No swelled head on THAT woman!!! (An update: I have now seen Loretta Lynn 5 times in concert!!)
UPDATE! I am seeing Loretta Lynn again later this month; CAN'T WAIT!!!! (The date of the concert is September 28, 2002.)