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Loretta Lynn: The “Coal” Truth

Loretta Lynn photo courtesy of Sony Music Nashville.

When Loretta Lynn showed up on Wednesday’s Country Music Association Awards, a lot of anniversaries lined up in the process.

She’s currently celebrating 50 years as an entertainer. And 40 years ago, she was on the national country charts with the biggest hit of her career, “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” the song she sang on the awards with Miranda Lambert and Sheryl Crow.

Sissy Spacek had a role in the CMA tribute, too, and even that marked an anniversary, since 2010 is 30 years since the release of the movie Coal Miner’s Daughter.

Part of what people like about Loretta is her honesty and directness. She doesn’t seem to filter her thoughts, and that’s one of the reasons why she succeeded.

“My life is in my songs,” she notes. “A lot of people say, ‘Hey, how do you write a song?’ How do you live? I mean, just sit down, and just start writin’ like you’re talkin’. That’s the way I always did it.”

Well, that’s mostly the way she did it.

“Maybe I had to change a few things,” she allows, “to not get so dirty.”

Songs are not the only things Loretta writes. Even in the Internet age, when people bang out emails in a hurry and move on to the next communication, she created notes by hand to invite some of her favorite artists to sing on a new album of her songs, Coal Miner’s Daughter: A Tribute To Loretta Lynn. The fact that she asked the artists in such a personal way was definitely appreciated.

“She wrote me a letter asking me to be a part of the tribute,” Carrie Underwood says. “It’s great that she was able to say who she wanted [on the album], and it’s not run by somebody else, you know. [She was] just thinking of people, and this was coming from her.”

Miranda had the same reaction.

“It’s ridiculous,” she says. “I actually got a note from Loretta, a little card, and it said ‘Miranda honey’ is how it started, and she just went on to talk about me and my career. You know, she writes just like she talks, and she asked me to do ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter,’ of all songs. And it’s not just me cutting ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter,’ it’s me singing it with Loretta. That’s the utmost compliment to me as an artist, that she would ask me to do it.”

That’s one more way in which the Loretta segment of the CMAs was an anniversary: It marked one day since the release of the tribute album. Others on the project include Alan Jackson, Kid Rock, Faith Hill, Lee Ann Womack, Reba McEntire and the White Stripes.

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