“Coal Miner’s Daughter” wasn’t just a song to Loretta Lynn; it was the story of her life. Lynn grew up in poverty, married at 13, had four children by 19. For most, it would be a recipe for disaster, but not for Lynn. When her husband Moony (named for the moonshine he ran) gave Lynn a guitar for her 24th birthday, she taught herself to play and began her journey towards country stardom. Loretta Lynn has written hundreds of songs, released over 70 albums and was one of the first women in Nashville to write songs from a woman’s point of view. Lynn was unafraid to be a liberated woman, releasing songs about birth control (“The Pill”), teen sex (“Wings Upon Your Horns”), and the Vietnam War (“Dear Uncle Sam”).
It’s no surprise that contemporary female artists felt inspired to contribute to Coal Miner’s Daughter: A Tribute to Loretta Lynn. Lynn’s songs translate well to the pop sound dominating current country music. On “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind),” Gretchen Wilson’s vocal swagger imbibes the song with girl power. For “You’re Looking at Country,” on the other hand, Carrie Underwood tries too hard—polishing the rough edges of Lynn’s song with denser instrumentation, extra vocal twang and studio slickness, ensuring that we’re not looking at Loretta Lynn’s country. Faith Hill makes the same mistake on “Love Is the Foundation.”
Lynn and Conway Twitty’s famous duets dominated the country music scene for most of the ’70s, with five #1 songs and seven top 10 hits. Alan Jackson and Martina McBride have a great time recreating the pairing with “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man,” a standout track. Jackson and McBride’s vocals and harmonies highlight the song’s lyrics; adding accordion and omitting electrical guitar make the song more enjoyable. On the closing track, Miranda Lambert, Sheryl Crow, and Lynn trade verses on “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” Lambert and Crow willingly take a backseat on the chorus, letting Lynn tell the story her way.
It’s no surprise that The White Stripes contributed a song to honor Lynn. After producing her 2004 release Van Lear Rose, Jack White called Lynn “his favorite singer.” “Rated X”—stripped down to acoustic guitar, tapped drums and tambourine—fits nicely into The White Stripe’s catalog next to “It’s True that We Love One Another.” In this arrangement, Meg White’s background cute vocals add rather than detract from the song. Surprisingly, Kid Rock’s version of “I Know How” works well with his rough-hewn vocals. Dueling guitars, honky-tonk piano and Hammond organ transform this song into a raging country boogie. It’s one of the best songs on the album.
Although most of the songs on Coal Miner’s Daughter: A Tribute to Loretta Lynn are country, it would be a shame to miss out on the new versions of Lynn’s iconic, well-written songs just because you’re not a fan of the genre. Hopefully, these covers will create a new legion of Loretta Lynn fans, because this coal miner’s daughter deserves it.
Coal Miner’s Daughter Track Listing:
01. Gretchen Wilson, “Don’t Come Home A Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind)”
02. Lee Ann Womack, “I’m A Honky Tonk Girl”
03. The White Stripes, “Rated X”
04. Carrie Underwood, ” You’re Lookin’ At Country”
05. Alan Jackson and Martina McBride, “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man”
06. Paramore, “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)”
07. Faith Hill, “Love Is The Foundation”
08. Steve Earle and Allison Moorer, “After the Fire Is Gone”
09. Reba featuring The Time Jumpers, “If You’re Not Gone Too Long”
10. Kid Rock, “I Know How”
11. Lucinda Williams, “Somebody Somewhere (Don’t Know What He’s Missin’ Tonight)”
12. Sheryl Crow and Miranda Lambert (Featuring Loretta Lynn), “Coal Miner’s Daughter”
Check out more from Loretta Lynn at her website.