Emma Lauren Poole | Oct. 8, 2022
You’ve been done a disservice if you’ve never listened to Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn. Not just their voices—but their words.
Truth be told, country music wasn’t an easy world for a woman to enter as recently as a few decades ago. For some, it’s still not the most welcoming environment. In the days following Loretta’s passing at 90 years of age, people have remembered her in their own special ways. They’ve called her inspirational, courageous and brave. Perhaps they don’t realize just how true their words were.
For a younger version of me, someone who loved music and played any instruments she could get her hands on (and still does), Patsy and Loretta were idols. It didn’t occur to me that their acts within the country music world took a great deal of bravery and courage.
Legend has it that during one of her appearances on the Grand Ole Opry, Patsy Cline became the first woman to wear pants onstage at the venue. It seems miniscule, but it’s not.
Patsy completely did away with the idea of a woman having to choose between her family and her career. She did both. And while her life ended tragically in a plane crash when she was just 30 years old, that legacy lived on.
Patsy didn’t make it out of this world before Loretta noticed her.
I heard growing up, and from watching the entirety of the Ken Burns Country Music documentary a few years ago, that Patsy and Loretta’s paths first crossed after the former was in a car crash. The latter sang one of her songs on a Nashville radio show. She heard the tribute from a hospital bed. The rest is history.
Patsy became someone Loretta looked up to – in her family, her career and her personal life. Loretta became someone the world looked up to – an icon and trailblazer who has inspired countless women to speak their truth.
Loretta spoke her truth.
She was born into a humble coal mining family in Kentucky, then relocated to Washington state, where she first achieved chart success with “I’m A Honky Tonk Girl.” Eventually, she ended up in Nashville, where she took the industry by storm. She was unapologetic about who she was, and gained extreme amounts of respect from others for the genuineness and honesty with which she conducted herself even after achieving fame.
She sang about her raising: “I was born a coal miner’s daughter, in a cabin on a hill in Butcher Hollow…”
She sang about the struggles of being a woman in her groundbreaking song, “The Pill:” “But all I’ve seen of this old world is a bed and a doctor bill; I’m tearin’ down your brooder house, ’cause now I’ve got the pill…”
…And she sang about never settling for less than you’re worth. “Well one of these nights you’re gonna come home, and find it’s comin’ home to you; You see what you’ve done and what’s good for one, is also good for two…”
She taught me a lot about that – never settling for less than you’re worth. Her voice coming through a staticky radio or the speakers of my parents stereo system growing up reassured me. I wasn’t the only one.
“You have no equal, Loretta Lynn,” said country singer Charley Crockett on Instagram.
“I can never repay you, Loretta,” said Margo Price. “Thanks for blazing the trail. I’ll love you forever.”
I chimed in, too. I hope, if somewhere in heaven, Loretta is reading all the amazing words people have said about her online, she smiled when she read mine. They’re true – “To one of my very biggest inspirations: as long as I live, you will too. Thank you for empowering women like me.”
Thank you, Loretta.
For enduring tough beginnings in an industry that couldn’t see how much you had to give to the world.
For working so hard for everything you achieved, inspiring others to do the same.
For teaching millions of women everywhere that they deserve the world.
For not being afraid to sing and speak your truth.