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I’ve loved three women in my life: Mother, of course, my first wife…..and Loretta Lynn.It’s hard to describe how pivotal 1960 was to a thirteen year old trying to bridge the gap …
I’ve loved three women in my life: Mother, of course, my first wife…..and Loretta Lynn.
It’s hard to describe how pivotal 1960 was to a thirteen year old trying to bridge the gap between childhood and advanced adolescence. I didn’t want to be looked at as a child anymore…..and yet, in all reality, I probably wasn’t ready to be handed the keys to the universe.
I remember clearly laying awake at night pondering on whether I was actually growing up or just scared of the thought that I might be!
Thank goodness I wasn’t alone. Buddy, Ricky and Yogi were having the same contemplations. We wanted to be “acknowledged” as maturing, growing, contributing….but we didn’t have a clue about life past the city limits sign.
We discussed our plight during breaks in the backyard baseball games and determined it was going to take some outside help.
Television was just making its way into our homes. And it had an immediate impact. We watched spellbound as Walter Cronkite on CBS took us to places in the world that had buildings taller than trees. We listened as he interviewed folks that didn’t have the country twang that permeated our everyday conversation. We had never thought of ourselves as “backwards” or “country” but then, we’d never been anywhere else.
We didn’t see hog farmers on TV. Or guys still using crosscut saws. People weren’t even wearing overalls for goodness sakes. And if you listened to Mr. Cronkite everyday, you’d-a-thought “ain’t” wasn’t even a word!
It’s not much fun thinking “here we are, just spreading our wings” and discovering the world has left you way behind.
Jackie Burns was giving us a ride out to Frank’s Dairy Bar in his 1956 Ford. We were half listening to a country station out of Lexington when I heard her voice for the first time.
It was like the whole world stopped, “Ever since you left me I’ve done nothing but wrong, Many nights I’ve laid awake and cried……”
Buddy was first to speak, “Well, there’s one thing for dead certain positive, we’re not as country as that girl!”
No, we weren’t. Her voice was from someplace way out further back than we’d ever been. You could hear it in every word. But it was also so pure. Bare. Straight forward. I’m thirteen years old, I’d heard one verse and I KNEW this lady was the real deal!
“So turn that jukebox way up high, And fill my glass up while I cry, I’ve lost everything in this world, And now I’m a Honky Tonk girl.”
And that was just her first song! She’d mesmerize you singing “Blue Kentucky Girl”, “Dear Uncle Sam” and “If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again.”
She felt like one of us from the very beginning. And she never apologized or took a back seat for being from Butcher Holler.
You can’t believe how proud that has made us over the years of her, and for her.
When her husband flirted around a bit, she wrote a number one hit, “You Ain’t (she’s more cultured than Walter Cronkite) Woman Enough to Take My Man.” When he had one too many, she sang, “Don’t Come Home A’Drinking with Loving on Your Mind.” You see, real country folks don’t take nothin’ off of nobody!
Every single time she sings “Coal Miner’s Daughter” we all receive a free trip back home.
I took a job at the Grand Ole Opry in 1968 just hoping to catch a glimpse of her. I was standing backstage listening to a couple of country music Hall of Famers talking about how many folks they played “in front of” at the Iowa State Fair or the Pontiac Silver Dome.
Loretta Lynn walked in talking about how many jars of tomatoes she’d “put up” the past week.
She turned to me and gave me a great big country, “Howdy.”
The truth slipped out of me without any thought or foreknowledge, “Miss Lynn, I fell in love with you in the back seat of Jackie Burns’ Ford in 1960 listening to “Honky Tonk Girl.”
She smiled and said, “I appreciate that son.”
“You really look nice tonight.” It was all I could think of.
She backed up just a mite, looked me up and down from head to toe a couple of times….and declared, “You ain’t looking too bad your ownself!”
Now, won’t that knock your hat in the creek…..