Saturday, June 10, 2006

"Not bad for this old Kentucky girl, I guess..."

Away from the football briefly, it was saddening to read of the world's coolest 71-year-old, Loretta Lynn, showing a rare vulnerability suffering a broken shoulder last week.

She is a heroine, and not just for the stunning 2004 comeback album, Van Lear Rose, surely the finest album ever to be released by a great-grandmother, and while produced by Jack "White Stripes" White and assumed by many to have been crunched-up on his orders, was apparently led by Loretta's own insistence on turning up the volume, souring up the lyrics and generally showing she could still (country-)rock the socks off the best of 'em...

Her lyrics have always been more sassy and sardonic than even ever threatened by many of those crinoline-wrapped, lacquered-bouffant country-gal stereotypes, turning the tables on her unreliable menfolk with twangy, tangy'n'salty Sixties anti-anthems such as "The Pill", "One's On The Way" (sample lyric: "The girls in New York City, they all march for women's lib - and better homes and garden shows, the modern way to live - and the Pill may change the world tomorrow, but meanwhile today - here in Topeka, the flies are a-buzzin' - the dog is a-barkin' and the floor needs a-scrubbin' - one needs a spankin' and one needs a huggin', Lord - one's on the way...") and the superlative, rather-scarily-aggressive-really "Fist City" ("I'm not sayin' my baby's a saint - 'cos he ain't - and that he won't cat around with a kitty - but I'm here to tell you gal, to lay off my man - if you don't want to go to Fist City...!")

But anyway... long before Jamie Foxx in Ray, or Johnny Cash in Walk The Line, Sissy Spacek was doing an Oscar-winning turn, both singing and acting, as Loretta in 1980's Coal Miner's Daughter - an excellent introduction (though not quite so recommended as any real Loretta greatest hits package or indeed the latest LP).

Though Loretta herself may disagree.
As "Story Of My Life", the ruminative closing track on Van Lear Rose tells it, in that charming throaty lilt of hers...:
"Some big shot in Hollywood
Thought a movie about my life'd be good,
It was a big deal,
Made a big splash -
What I want to know is, what happened to the cash...?"

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