Country music star Loretta Lynn dies at 90

AURELIA HARRISON, Features and Opinion Editor

Beloved country star Loretta Lynn has died at age 90, at her ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. She passed away in her sleep on the morning of October 4th.

Loretta Lynn (neè Webb) was born in 1932, in Butcher Hill, Kentucky, the second oldest of 7 siblings. The family was supported financially by their coal miner father (as detailed in her hit song, “Coal Miner’s Daughter”). 

Lynn married her now-late husband, Oliver Lynn, when she was 15. The couple moved to Custer, Washington, and in 1953, Lynn began to teach herself guitar. She formed a band with her brother, Loretta and the Trailblazers, and started playing at local bars.

Despite countless financial and domestic barriers, she managed to release her debut record, “I’m a Honky-Tonk Girl”, in 1960. The song was issued under the independent label Zero Records, and peaked at number 14 on the Billboard country charts, a successful beginning to her career.

Lynn didn’t shy away from tough topics in her writing – in fact, she was famous for it. Her first #1 hit, “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind), addressed an issue that she and many wives of the time struggled with – that is, having a husband who comes home drunk and expects sex. Her 1975 hit, “The Pill”, sang about birth control pills at a time when birth control was controversial to even talk about, much less sing about positively – “I’m tearin’ down your brooder house, ‘cause now I’ve got the pill”. 

Lynn herself had 6 children with her late husband. In fact, she had her first child with him when she was only 15 years old. When asked in a 2010 NPR interview with Terri Gross, Lynn said – “Well, we didn’t even know that word, pregnancy. We just called it ‘havin’ babies’. We didn’t know a lot of things then.”

Throughout her career, Lynn racked up an impressive number of awards and achievements. She released 16 #1 hits, was awarded 4 Grammys and 17 Grammy nominations, and her influence on country music and music, in general, was immeasurable.

Lynn’s story is remarkable, and it is one that resonates with working-class people across the US. She was the opposite of the product of nepotism – every odd was stacked against her. Her story, of struggle, perseverance, and success, is one that will not soon be forgotten