Thanks in no small part to the biopic Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980), the arc of Loretta Lynn’s singing career is well known. It resembles that of many country stars – she emerged from a desperately poor childhood to become wealthy and internationally famous.
However, unlike many country singers, men and women alike, Lynn wrote her own material, and beginning in the mid-1960s, she composed outspoken songs about the frustrations of womanhood that, in their frequently humorous way, anticipated feminism.
In 1967, Lynn was 32 and had been recording with Nashville’s Decca label for five years, where she had charted with innocuous fare such as Blue Kentucky Girl.
But starting with You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man) (1966), Lynn began to write songs of great honesty and courage – perhaps none more courageous than the title track from her debut album, Don’t Come Home A Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind) (1967).
The song, which starts the album, has a bouncy tempo and cheerful steel guitar riffs that belie the dark subject matter.
For in her alto twang, Lynn is singing about what has, in recent years, come to be known as ‘acquaintance rape’ – “You come in a-kissin’ on me, it happens every time/No don’t come home a-drinkin’ with lovin’ on your mind”.
Her frankness in that song is matched only by that of her superb 1974 hit, The Pill.
Having clocked up 24 #1 hit singles and eleven #1 albums, she ended 57 years of touring after she suffered a stroke in 2017 and broke her hip in 2018.
Loretta Lynn passed away on 4 October 2022, aged 90.