In 1960 Loretta Lynn burst onto the country charts with her first song, “Honky Tonk Girl.” She quickly made her way onto the stage of the Grand Ole Opry and the rest, as they say, is history.
She’s made enough hit records to be able to release an album of Number 1s and few dozen others that could be called “greatest hits” and a whole section of her museum dedicated to the Grammys, Academy of Country Music and Lifetime Achievement awards. And though she’s over 70-years-old, Loretta Lynn can still write ’em and sing ’em.
At her recent show at the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio she sang that first hit single 50 years after it charted.
After short opening sets from The Coalminers (her backing band) and Peggy and Patsy Lynn (her twin daughters) and a mini-documentary highlighting a handful of her achievements in the last half-century, Loretta took the stage with “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like My Daddy.”
In her magenta formal gown that could inspire jealousy in many a rodeo queen, Loretta is a country legend and very deserving of the many monikers she’s gained over the years.
During the set she joked with the audience, told a few short stories and asked for any requests. “We’ll play whatever you all want to hear. You paid your way in, I just snuck in the back,” she laughed. “But that don’t mean I’m gonna sing ‘it, or that if you know it that you can get up and sing it.”
A few times she updated the lyrics of her songs to fit the times, for example changing the reference to Jackie O. in Shel Silverstein’s “One’s On The Way” to Michelle. Other changes seemed less intentional, she occasionally dropped a verse, especially in the aforementioned tune (apparently it’s always been a pesky one to remember—check your “Coal Miner’s Daughter” movie) but we’ll forgive her, she’s got so gosh darn many songs she’s a brave, brave woman for taking (and honoring) requests at all.
“Everybody on that bus has got to work or else they’ve got to get out and walk” Loretta laughed as she was introducing some of her musical family. One of her young grandchildren, Emmy Rose, took over for a few minutes of endearing mishaps (disappearing capos and forgotten chords) and two songs, later John, her son-in-law, stepped in and then her backing vocalists performed a short medley of Eagles tunes. There was a quick transition into a series of Loretta’s gospel tunes and then the night was capped off with her signature song, “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” The whole affair was over much too quickly, approximately 80 minutes from the first notes of the opening set.
And while we can’t explain the strange choices in cover tunes from the rest of the band, there’s just one thing Loretta could have done to make the show better: it would have been nice to hear some newer material, the 2005 Grammy-winning Van Lear Rose was entirely ignored and most of the set came from her 1960s and ’70s catalogue. They’re still great songs, but we would have loved to hear “Portland, Oregon” or “Mrs. Leroy Brown” alongside “Your Squaw is on the Warpath Tonight” and “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind).”
They Don’t Make ‘Em Like My Daddy
You’re Looking At Country
When A Tingle Becomes A Chill
I Want to be Free
Here I Am
You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)
Blue Kentucky Girl
She’s Got You
Lead Me On
One’s On The Way/The Pill
This Is Me (Emmy Rose)
A Mirror Can Lie (Emmy Rose)
Honky Tonk Girl
Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind)
He Stopped Loving Her Today (John)
Good Hearted Woman (John)
Your Squaw is on the Warpath
Hole in the World/How Long (Backing vocalists)
Man Of Constant Sorrow
Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven/Who Says God Is Dead?/Where No One Stands Alone
Coal Miner’s Daughter
Photos by Nichole Wagner