With 16 number-one country hits and a whole museum of awards (including 4 Grammys, 10 Academy of Country Music Awards and the distinction of being the first woman to ever be named “Entertainer of the Year” by the Country Music Association) Loretta Lynn has been the “first lady of country music” for decades. At 74-years-young, her voice is still strong and her dresses still sparkle.
By giving various members of her band, The Coal Miners, time in the spotlight she kept the show moving while she caught her breath between her own tunes during her concert at Denver’s Paramount Theatre.
Before the show got underway, Loretta’s daughter Patsy came out to talk to the audience about the fact that it was her mother’s 49th anniversary of being in country music and that when she had told her that Loretta had insisted it hadn’t been that long until they spent 30 minutes counting up the years on the bus. She also mentioned that they had special autographed box sets and cookbooks and other merchandise up at the table.
Patsy joked that the cookbook was a funny concept since her mother had never measured anything in her life and had instead “guessed” about the amount of ingredients needed. She added that Loretta had said that if any of the recipes turned out wrong she had six kids she could blame it on and say it was their recipe.
Loretta’s son, Ernest Ray came out on stage next and sang Toby Keith’s Ain’t As Good as I Once Way. He said that he had been on the road with his mother for “too long” as she said and that he gets fired a lot but not near as much as he did as when he was working for his dad. He did the George Strait song, Troubadour and then brought Patsy back out to sing Great Balls of Fire.
Patsy said that they had headed straight for the shopping center (16th Street Mall) when they had arrived and that her twin sister Peggy didn’t get to come with them this time and it was weird without her twin. She added that she’s often asked if she was named after Patsy Cline and she’s “proud to say, ‘Yes, I was,’” and that Peggy likes to tell the story that Loretta decided to name the twin with little chubby cheeks “Patsy.” In tribute to her namesake she sang Walking After Midnight.
Finally, Ernest Ray gave the classic “Please make welcome, the first lady of country music, Ms. Loretta Lynn!” introduction and Loretta came out and launched right into Hey Loretta!.
After When A Tingle Becomes A Chill and I Wanna Be Free, she mentioned how dry the air was up here and that she had told them she was going to “get me a little piece of gum and I’ll put it in my mouth” and that hopefully that would help. Ernest Ray said that they served beer at the venue and Loretta said, “Really? I didn’t know that.”
Loretta also said that Peggy “just didn’t come, she could but she didn’t. Lazy, lazy.” She made some comment about how the younger generations were like that and then mentioned how she had make-up in her eye and it made her look like she’d been drunk for two weeks because her eyes were red.
Governor Bill Ritter, Jr. came out on stage to present her with a plaque commemorating her induction into the Colorado Country Music Hall of Fame, thanking Loretta for all her musical contributions. She laughed when she saw the plaque had her picture on it and said that it would be going into her museum.
“Who wants to hear ‘One’s On The Way?’” She asked, sitting down in the chair that she had pulled out before the governor’s part. “Good Lord,” she said.
One’s On The Way / The Pill
She told a story about how she had the pleasure of going to the White House 6 times and that the first time was when Jimmy Carter was in office and he made a list of songs that he wanted her to sing and they included “One’s On The Way,” “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like My Daddy,” “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” and “The Pill,” which she found funny because he’s a good Christian.
Ernest Ray chimed in that he was the “poster boy for why you should take the pill for a few years,” and Loretta rolled her eyes at him. She added that when she recorded the song the “babies” were about 7-years-old and they took offense to the “Oh, gee, I hope it’s not twins, again” line.
She commented that her nose was running and her make-up was going everywhere and that Patsy had told her earlier, “Mom, you need to get out in the sun more,” and Loretta had responded, “You get out of here, telling me that I’m pale.” She said how she was part Irish and part Cherokee and that all she had gotten was the “Indian temper” but that the Irish had a temper too so maybe she was just hot-tempered.
She continued on saying that Doolittle had called her “Squaw” and that led into a discussion between her and Ernest Ray about why Doo was called Doo which ended with Ernest Ray saying “Y’all got six kids, he was doing something,” and Loretta saying that she had lost Doo 16 years ago and that it’s still hard to talk about him before effectively changing subjects saying, “Take it away, boys.”
They played Here I Am Again and then she took a moment to ask if anyone had seen, “James – that psychic guy, from TV” and that she didn’t believe people who left came back to you and that she’d never met one who did but that Ernest Ray had seen ghosts at the house. Ernest Ray added that he’d seen lots of stuff and Loretta asked him how many bottles he had had before he saw that stuff.
“Ok, friends,” she said. “It’s your show – so whatever you want to hear, just holler it out.” But she said that if “I don’t know it, you’ll have to come sing it yourself.” The request that was picked ended up being You Ain’t Woman Enough
She suggested that someone introduce the band and then said, “Bart, why don’t you sing one, honey?”
Instead of Bart singing one, Larry interrupted and asked if there where in any Rockies fans because Dinger was in the house. Loretta said that baseball was her game because while she didn’t understand football or other sports, she could follow baseball, partially because Doo had played. She said she’d sing Dinger a song and that she’d “bet he’d like She’s Got You.
“It’s a little harder to sing up here,” she said. “I hope you don’t mind he sitting down.”
There was some talk about how Bart was going to sing a song but that Loretta had gotten distracted by all the baseball talk and that Bart should “cut loose” and show the audience he could sing.
He sang Blake Shelton’s Nobody But Me and then Loretta said, “Me and Ernest have been singing together ever since he was 8-years-old,” and that he sang on “Momma, Why Did God Take My Daddy?” and that she had paid him 36 cents. (“More than I’m getting now,” Ernest quipped.) She continued to say how that when they were recording the engineer was hearing a jingling noise when Ernest was singing and that Loretta had to go in there and take away the 36 cents because he was playing with it and it could be heard on the tape. (“You still owe me that,” Ernest said.)
She said that Bart would pester her until they sang one together so they did Lead Me On. Someone had put some water on the side of the stage and Loretta said that it “needs to me looked at” and told Bart to do so. He picked it up and sniffed it and determined that it was indeed water but handed her a room temperature bottle from behind her. When she handed it back saying, “Somebody get this,” Bart replied, “It’s open.” She laughed a little and said, “I know, I already had a drink.”
Ernest Ray told a joke that he promised was “not dirty” and Loretta rolled her eyes as he started into a joke about a little girl and her dog that she wanted to take out walking but it was in heat so her parents wouldn’t let her until her dad masked the scent with gasoline and the punch-line being that the dog had run out of gas about two blocks up when the little girl returned home without the dog. Loretta said, “Lord have mercy – play something you all.”
Loretta said that every she wrote was about something that had actually happened and that that song was directed at some lady who had tried to take Doo from her after she had been out on the road. Loretta’s story was interrupted by someone bringing Ernest Ray a beer, (“You’re a hell of a man!”) which led Loretta to ask where the governor was when you needed him and Ernest Ray to say that the governor was probably a beer man because he grew wheat and that digressed into Ernest suggesting that maybe he ever grew some herbs.
The band started up playing a song and Loretta scolded, “I told you all to wait a minute!” She continued her story about how she was hospitalized for exhaustion when she came back from the tour and that she found out that the woman who had been with Doo was the niece of one of the nurses in the hospital and that she was “mad as the devil” and that she hoped someone down there would take care of it for her. She said something about how she hoped they “drownded” which made Ernest laugh and ask her how she spelled that. She said, “d-r-o-w-n-d-e-d” and continued on to tell about how the radio stations in Denver and Colorado Springs had played her first record a lot but after awhile the DJs stopped writing to her and she didn’t know what had happened to them.
Honky Tonk Girl
She talked about how they had moved from Kentucky to Washington state and that she had four of her kids there and she never did think she could sing but Doo was her biggest fan. She continued on about how she’s had twins since then and now “grandkids, grandkids, grandkids and grandkids,” and that we should see Christmastime at her house, “they come in one door and out the other and I don’t ever have a house left.”
She introduced her granddaughter, Tayla, who came out on the stage saying that Loretta didn’t have to tell the audience that her dad was Ernest Ray especially after he’s been telling nasty jokes.
Tayla sang Rated X which led into a discussion about how Loretta had told her to sing other peoples’ songs but Tayla had said, “Mee-maw, I’m your fan.” There was another story about how Tayla had moved in with Loretta for a year after Doo had died and that one night she didn’t come home and didn’t call or anything. When she did come home, she found Loretta standing at the head of the stairs, hands on her hips and madder than Tayla had ever seen her.
Tayla sang Coal Dust (in my Veins) before Loretta and Ernest told the story about Conway Twitty coming to visit Doolittle in the hospital and how he ended up dying of an aneurysm that day instead. They sang Feelings and Loretta invited the backup singers to come down and sing one. They came down and sang a combination of the Eagles’ Hole in the World and How Long.
Loretta talked about how Doo was a farmer and that he was up with the chickens and she had called him one morning from the road to play him a song she had just written, “Your Squaw is on the Warpath,” and that about half-way through she hear the phone go, “clunk” and that even so “the little booger ran all the way to the bank with the money.”
Somehow they managed to segue that into a gospel medley of Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven, Who Says God Is Dead? and Where No One Stands Alone.
She thanked the audience again and launched into Coal Miner’s Daughter after which she did a few bows and exited the stage.