Celebrate Loretta Lynn’s Golden Anniversary

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Nov. 22 2010 3:28 PM

Celebrate Loretta Lynn’s Golden Anniversary

From time to time, a Slate staffer or critic offers up a favorite cultural pick for Procrastinate Better readers. Today's endorsement is from Slate contributor Noreen Malone.

I didn’t listen to much country music until I moved to NewYork, but here its twang often seems perfect for countervailing the jangle ofthe city, and the sudsy sentimentalism offers a welcome break from Easternreserve. Lately I’ve gotten particularly hung up on down-home proto-feministLoretta Lynn, whose songs I’ve grown to love fiercely. 2010 happens to be the50th anniversary of her first single, and so there’s been a small bonanzaof Loretta-themed releases: Her memoir, ACoal Miner’s Daughter , has been reissued in a new version, along with a two-disccompilation of her greatest hits . There’s also a just-outtribute album featuring mostly country artists—and a rocker or two—singingsome of Lynn’s best-loved songs. (I’m partial to the White Stripes’ version of"Rated X," and the Alan Jackson/Martina McBride duet on "Louisiana Woman,Mississippi Man.") Lynnalso recently gave a fascinating interview on Fresh Air that’s worth yourtime especially if you’re unfamiliar with her life story. The best tidbitsinclude the fashion advice she got from Patsy Cline, her friendship with JackWhite, and the detail that, though she penned the shocking-for-its-milieuanthem " The Pill ,"Lynn didn’t have access to birth control..She had yet another unplannedpregnancy in the wake of the song’s release.

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To see the fruits of Cline’s sartorial advice (oh my!) andthat collaborative friendship with White, check out this clip of Lynnperforming 2005’s "Portland, Oregon," a warm bit of escapism I’ve been playingon repeat as this New York winter begins.