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Well, I was born a coal miner’s daughter / In a cabin, on a hill in Butcher Holler / We were poor but we had love / That’s the one thing that daddy made sure of

When I was a boy, our family would visit my Grandma in South Boston, Virginia—usually for a week in the summer or a long Thanksgiving weekend. She was tall and loud with a head full of greying, fiery red hair. Though most of her hell‐raising days were done, it wasn’t uncommon to find her with a beer in one hand and a Pall Mall in the other.

From the moment she woke up until Johnny Carson signed off at the end of the night, Nannie Sue was running around the house doing something. However, sometimes in the afternoon, before she’d start making supper, she’d put one of her Conway Twitty records on. She’d sit in her chair in the living room, smoking her cigarette, tapping her foot to that late‐1970s country music. I’m pretty sure she was the only one that liked it. Our whole family wouldn’t dare suggest listening to something else in her house for fear of getting barked at. Those whiny love songs with that never‐ending pedal steel guitar wailing in the background, ugh—every song sounded the same to me, and I hated them all.

Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn made a handful of records together, so I’m pretty sure I listened to those as well while visiting my Nannie. 

A few years back, I was re‐introduced to Loretta Lynn through an album she made with Jack White—Van Lear Rose (2004). That album, which was her forty‐second studio album, was highly acclaimed and won a few Grammy Awards. It’s a great album that served as a gateway to discovering some of her earlier work—some of which I’m sure I couldn’t stand as an eight‐year‐old but love as an, ahem…grown-up. Yep, my Nannie Sue was right all along.

Loretta Lynn as a child

It’s been nice to sit here listening to these tunes, reading the sweet tributes from her peers and family members. That woman was a maverick—what a tough, full, and meaningful life she led. Thank you for everything, and rest in peace, Loretta Lynn.


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