Coal Miner’s Daughter Comes Full Circle

musings 250_edited-1Loretta Lynn debuted on the Grand Ole Opry stage at the Ryman Auditorium in 1960. In 2014, she headlined a show there for the first time and I was there. As wild as that seems, it is understandable in that the Ryman has only been hosting solo concerts for the last 15 years or so. Regardless, it was a treat to be there on many different levels. She played two shows (Friday and Saturday) and I attended the Friday show.

I grew up in Waverly, TN which is a scant 10 miles from Hurricane Mills, Tenn., where Loretta has had her ranch for several years. I went to school with a couple of her daughters and in a strange twist of fate, one of my sons goes to school with one of Loretta’s grandkids. During my growing up years, I wasn’t a country music fan, but have grown to appreciate some of the music I shunned in my youth. Therefore, when I learned of her two shows, I was decided it was time to go see my neighbor – Loretta.

Watch a short video of Loretta’s performance

The Ryman was packed on a stormy Friday night. Loretta’s daughter, Patsy, came out and welcomed everyone to the show. She talked about her mom having entertained folks for 54 years!  That’s a long time for any musician or singer. The surprise of the night was the opening act – Brandy Clark. With a wonderful voice and a single band member (acoustic guitar) to back her up, she captivated the packed house with her songs. She proved her songwriting chops by playing two of her more popular songs that she wrote – “Mama’s Broken Heart” by Miranda Lambert and “Better Dig Two” by the Band Perry. After about 30 minutes, she gave the stage over to Loretta’s long-time backup band – the Coal Miners. They were led by her son, Ernie who sang two songs to get the crowd warmed up.

lorettaThe crowd went nuts when Loretta came out. She spent the next hour singing her songs and cutting up with the band. Most of her banter was with Ernie who would tell off-color jokes and his mom would fuss at him. She clipped through all of her hits at a pretty good pace. Her vocals were strong. Not just strong for an 82 year old – strong period. She was suffering from a cold or sinus junk, commonly called the “Tennessee Crud”, so that caused a couple of missed words to cough; but her band would step right in and keep on singing. There was one mix up with the set list where we got the first verse of a song a second time. About halfway through her set, she did sit in a plain folding chair to rest her back.

I noticed that when she was standing, she basically stood in one spot. At first, I attributed that to age, but it hit me – most classic country acts did that – stand and sing. There wasn’t a whole lot of moving around I guess until Garth came along and brought rock & roll theatrics to country music.

While classic country may not be my cup of tea (sweet please), you have to respect Loretta for her enduring songs, vocal strength, and classiness. I was glad that I was there for her first time to headline the Ryman. Thanks, neighbor.

About Zach Clayton

Zach Clayton started Music Musings in 2013, but isn’t a stranger to music. While he may be a mild mannered accountant by day, he always has tunes going and forces his staff at work to play music trivia when they enter his office. He is a self-proclaimed lover of all music genres with over 3,500 songs in his iPod. Zach’s first concert was Eddie Money in Vanderbilt’s Memorial Gym in 1979 and claims to have seen Van Halen (all three incarnations) over 25 times. There have only been one or two years since 1979 that Zach hasn’t been to a concert. He also has the uncanny knack of getting to know several folks in the music scene – both out front and behind the scenes. Zach is in the process of indoctrinating his two boys into the rock and roll way by exposing them to concerts and various music while holding them hostage in his truck screaming the mantra – “rap is crap!”

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