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Sweet Loretta Modern

Country music legend Loretta Lynn visits Harrah’s Resort Saturday night, Sept. 18.

By Ed Condran
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Sep. 15, 2010

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Lynn's last studio album was 2004's heralded 'Van Lear Rose.' This is the cover of that album.

When Interscope Records revealed that Jack White would produce Loretta Lynn, some music fans were surprised.
Why would the young, in-demand White of the blues-rock fueled White Stripes want to work with a country matriarch in her golden years?

Well, the answer is more obvious than what was on the surface of the pairing. Lynn and White are music mavericks. The former is an iconic figure who changed the country music landscape.

Sure, Lynn amassed a number of country music hits. “What Kind of Girl (Do You Think I Am),” “To Make a Man (Feel Like a Man)” and “One’s On The Way’ were country smashes.

But some of her finest and most affecting songs surprised conservative fans. “Dear Uncle Sam,” penned in 1966, was inspired by the massive casualty toll of the Vietnam War. “Rated X” caused controversy when it dropped in 1973. There was even more noise surrounding “The Pill,” which was delivered in 1975. The latter is believed to be the first song about birth control.

Lynn, 76, surprised some folks with the incendiary content but each of those three songs hit the country Top 10.
 “I let it all out when I write,” Lynn tells Atlantic City Weekly. “I never let anyone dictate to me what I should do. That’s the way it’s always been for me.”

The country songsmith, who will perform Saturday at Harrah’s Resort, found a musical soul mate when she met White, a longtime ardent fan, who covered “Rated X” as a White Stripe. He also dedicated the band’s 2001 release White Blood Cells to her.

“Jack is just a wonderful person,” Lynn says. “He’s young and full of energy. It was a joy to work with him.”
White produced Van Lear Rose, a raw collection of tracks, each written by Lynn.

“Jack wanted me to write each of the (13) songs,” Lynn says. “He was so enthusiastic.”
White had every reason to be pumped by working with the then 70-year old legend. White was wise enough to realize that Lynn wasn’t finished even though she took much of the ‘90s off to care for her ailing husband, who passed away in 1996.

The two rebels made one of the finest albums of 2004. Lynn proved that she still had it with her new melancholy ballads and the country rave-ups.“The ability to do things doesn’t go away with age,” Lynn says. “I proved that I can still do it [with Van Lear Rose.]”

As impressive as the album is, it’s just one chapter in her compelling life story, which was worthy of big screen treatment. Coal Miner’s Daughter, the title of her classic 1976 album, is also the tag of her 1980 biopic. Lynn, who had four children by the time she was 19 and was a grandmother by 29, lived through a tumultuous marriage and became one of the all time music greats after surviving a hard-scrabble early existence.
“I went through a lot, “Lynn says. “There were ups and downs but I persevered. I did the best for my family and my music.”

And Lynn continues to make an impact on the music scene and pop culture. “I’m still having fun with it,” Lynn says. “I have a lot of songs to play and a lot of experience to draw from.”
It all hasn’t been easy for Lynn, who survived a turbulent marriage, balancing an enviable career with children and grandchildren and bucking a long forgotten stereotype regarding female performers.

“I remember when I started out, people believed women couldn’t sell records or concert tickets,” Lynn says. “That was obviously wrong. I sold my share of records and tickets and received some nice awards.”

Lynn was the first woman to be named Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association back in 1972.
“It was an honor,” Lynn says. “You just didn’t see women get the credit back then but when you look around today, there are just so many incredibly talented women, who take that stage and they fortunately receive their due. It’s a wonderful time to be a woman. I love seeing all these female artists do so well.”

Well, female and male performers realize how significant Lynn is as a country singer-songwriter. Reba McEntire and Faith Hill are among the stars, who will be part of Loretta Lynn: A Tribute to a Coal Miner’s Daughter. The disc will drop in November.

“I’ve been so fortunate throughout my career to be recognized by so many people,” Lynn says. “There’s always someone who has been kind enough to say how I’ve influenced them as an artist or how big of a fan they are. It’s been so wonderful but I don’t want to sound like it’s all in the past. I’m still out there and I’m having a great time.

“When I step on to the stage, there is no other place that I would rather be. I certainly ended up in the right career. This is what I was meant to do and I still embrace that.” 

Read a July 2004 cover story on Loretta Lynn and her latest studio album, that year's Van Lear Rose, here.

Watch Lynn's performance with Jack White on the Today show in 2004:


Loretta Lynn
Where: Harrah’s Resort, Atlantic City
When: Saturday, Sept. 18, 9pm
How much: $35, $45 and $55.
Phone: 441-5000
 

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