2016 CD REVIEW
FULL CIRCLE (SONY-LEGACY).
LORETTA LAYS DOWN DUET WITH FELLOW OCTOGENARIAN WILLIE
“This life isn't fair, it seems / it's filled with tears and broken dreams/ there are no tears where I am bound / and I'll be at peace when they lay me down/ when they lay me down someday /my soul will rise and fly away /this old world will turn around / I'll be at peace when they lay me down.” - Lay Me Down - Mark Marchetti.
Russell died at 61 on July 3, 2001, long after his biggest musical earner Act Naturally topped charts for Buck Owens and later Ringo Starr & The Beatles.
Although Mooney died at 70 in 1996 after their 48 year marriage his childhood sweetheart Loretta continued to perform.
She released her previous album Van Lear Rose - that won two of her four Grammy Awards - with producer Jack White of the White Stripes in 2004.
This time she has reached back to her embryonic career for classics for this 14 track disc on the Sony Legacy label that became her highest chart debut at #19 on the all genre Billboard Top 200 after its release on March 4.
Loretta's twin daughter Patsy Lynn Russell, named after the late Patsy Cline, and John Carter Cash - son of the late Johnny and June Carter Cash - produced the thematic disc at the family Cash Cabin Studio at Nashville suburb Hendersonville.
It traces her life story from her entrée - a remake of Whispering Sea , the first song she wrote, with her explanation of its roots.
The album also reaches back to Appalachian music - In the Pines, Blackjack David and I Never Will Marry - that she grew up hearing but never recorded.
Her album finale is a duet with Shotgun Willie Nelson, 83, on April 29, on a new song Lay Me Down - a reflection on life and a musing on mortality.
The song is accompanied by a David McClister direct video where Loretta and Willie are each shown alone, singing Lay Me Down, in the backstage halls and dressing rooms of the Nashville Municipal Auditorium.
Lynn is dressed in one of her iconic gowns, and Nelson has his trusty guitar, Trigger .
Eventually, the two meet together onstage to sing in an empty auditorium, ending their performance with a sweet embrace.
Lynn and Nelson haven't appeared onstage together since the 1985 Farm Aid benefit concert.
“I am so proud to be able to sing a song with my friend, Willie. I love this song, Lay Me Down , so much,” Lynn revealed.
“It had been 30 years since we'd last seen each other. Willie and I got to meet and talk about old times when we shot the music video in Nashville. Willie is one of those people that, even if you haven't seen them for 30 years, you feel like it was just yesterday. We have a natural respect and love for each other.”
Nelson is equally enamored with Lynn.
“I'm excited to have a new record and video out with Ms. Loretta Lynn, who is one of the few remaining traditional country artists, and one of my favorite people,” Willie added.
“She's an original!”
TODD SNIDER, LORETTA AND ELVIS - COSTELLO
“I love you more than she ever will/ but the only way she can get a man is steal/ I don't know if I should tell you this or not/ she's got everything it takes/ to take everything you've got/ and when she takes you/ she's takin' everything that I've got too/ she's had a million old flames.” - Everything It Takes - Loretta Lynn-Todd Snider.
“I loved to drive my Cadillac,” said Loretta who invited Todd to her songwriting cabin.
“Nobody would drive with me, because I drove too fast.”
It's an assertive but less acrimonious old fashioned honky tonk shuffle with a similar theme to her early hit Fist City , also revived here.
“It's a woman song - something more for a woman,” Loretta explained.
"I wrote Everything It Takes real fast. I probably wrote it in 30 minutes. Sometimes I can write a song real fast, and sometimes it'll take me two, three days. And I get so aggravated that I'll probably lay it down and go back to it later. But that song came easy. I'll come up with the title first and, when I come up with the title, I always know I got a good title."
Snider later described their cabin writing locale.
“There's a big safe full of notepads that are full of poems,” Snider revealed.
“They were mostly yellow legal pads. I opened it and they just fell out. She said I could just sit and go through her notepads, and I found that.”
Snider said Loretta had a specific but simple song writing strategy.
“Don't try to be a poet, just talk to someone,” he recalled.
“Her songs are just telling you how they feel. And later on, you see it's poetic.”
But what about duet partner Elvis Costello?
"We sat down in the studio to write a song," Lynn recalled of her first meeting with Costello about five years ago.
"I had a piece of paper and a pencil, and he had a computer. So we looked at one another like, 'what's going to come out of this?' He was laughing about it, but I didn't think it was funny because that's the way I write all my songs. When I write a song, I don't want to be on a computer."
Despite the culture clash, they got along very well.
"The first time I heard Elvis sing since that day was on the record," Lynn says.
"I couldn't believe it. I wasn't even there when we did it but we did a good job."
FIST CITY, THE BOOKS AND MOVIE
“Oh, you've been makin' your brags around town/ that you've been a lovin' my man/ but the man I love, when he picks up trash/ he puts it in a garbage can/ that's what a you look like to me/ what I see's a pity/ you better close your face and stay outta my way/ if you don't wanna go to fist city.” - Fist City - Loretta Lynn.
“And where I lived was 3,000 miles away from country music. And I just started writing. Nobody told me I couldn't do it, and nobody told me it was good when I started writing, but I just kept on.”
Lynn said she prefers to sing with men.
“Yeah, I think we sound better,” says the singer who recorded a brace of duet albums with the late Conway Twitty.
“The girls we all sound alike, you know, and we get in a room by ourselves, we start looking alike - and that's bad.”
And she expanded on the source of her songs that included her first No. 1 hit, Don't Come Home A-Drinkin' (With Lovin' on Your Mind) , and, a few years later, a blunt yet bouncy warning to a would-be rival, Fist City .
She also revives T. Graham Brown hit Wine Into Water - a prayerful plea to break free of alcohol.
Lynn has always been sober but her husband and family were not.
“I don't see nothing wrong with drinking, but when you get hooked on it, it's time to do something about it,” Lynn said.
“I would've liked to have sung that song to my husband.”
Lynn also thanks Mooney for inspiring other songs.
“I wrote about my heartaches, I wrote about everything,” Loretta explained.
“But when you get to hear the song, you just grin. I wrote songs about how I was feeling at the time, If I was in a fighting mood about some old gal trying to take my husband, I wrote about it. And she knew about it. The whole world knew about it then. The more you hurt, the better the song is. You put your whole heart into a song when you're hurting. You can't be protected. I didn't try to be protected. I didn't want to be protected. When I wrote a song like that, I was mad, and somebody else needed protection, not me.”
WHO'S GONNA MISS ME
“Is there one troubled soul/ these hands of mine could hold/ who's gonna miss me when I'm gone/ who's gonna wanna follow in my footsteps maybe/ who's gonna miss me when I'm gone.” - Who's Gonna Miss Me - Loretta Lynn-Lola Jean Dillon.
Lynn may have only released one new album in 12 years but there's a deep legacy she's already working on, reflected on her album in new original song - Who's Gonna Miss Me?
Since 2007 she has been working at the Cash Cabin Studio on Johnny Cash's estate with John Carter Cash, and her daughter Patsy Lynn Russell as producers.
They have completed 93 songs and Lynn intends to record more.
“I wanted the kids to have 'em,” Lynn confessed.
“I thought, everybody, they don't think about what they're leaving. So I went in and I thought, I'm going to cut every song I've ever had out. I started with my first hits and I cut the Top 5s and then the Top 10s. And then I just started cutting some that I wrote and some that I've always wanted to sing.”
Cash revealed Loretta has finished full albums' worth of gospel, Appalachian and Christmas songs, along with favorites from her own repertoire and cover songs.
“It was like filling in an encyclopedia,” Cash said at his studio in in the woods, set up to record natural sounds.
It has Cash and Carter Family memorabilia on the walls, an 1889 Steinway upright piano and assorted recording rooms presided over by stuffed deer and fish.
“There was so much that she wanted to do, and she didn't want to be restricted,” Cash said of Lynn.
“It was exciting because she was in lots of ways taking new creative directions, where she'd never gone before.”
Cash says Full Circle emulated its name - it recreates the style of her 1960s and 1970s recordings with the producer Owen Bradley.
Her session featured first-rate pickers, often using vintage instruments, playing together and interacting with Lynn, who was with the band even while it was recording instrumental tracks.
The musicians include pedal steel guitarists Robby Turner and Paul Franklin, Shawn Camp, Sam Bush, Ronnie McCoury and Pay McLaughlin on mandolin, Dennis Crouch upright bass, guitarists Randy Scruggs, Jamie Hartford, Bryan Sutton, drummer Rock Lonow, pianist Tony Harrell and Jon Randall and Ronnie Bowman on backing vocals.
Cash's daughter Laura Weber Cash also guests on acoustic guitar, fiddle and backing vocals.
Lynn's voice has stayed strong; nearly all 93 songs were recorded in just a take or two.
“She's louder than most, and she's gonna sing higher than you think she will,” Cash said.
“With Loretta you just turn on the mike, stand back and hold on.”
Loretta says she has another 150 unfinished songs in the safe.
But one of her best-loved songs, Coal Miner's Daughter , still haunts her.
“When I recorded that song I didn't care whether it hit anybody else or not. I was thinking of me,” she said despite producer Bradley telling her it had too many verses and she needed to cut them.
“It was the hardest thing I ever had to do - take four verses off of a song that was my life story. And I left them at the studio. I don't know whatever happened to them.”
But now that she's writing and recording again, she's tempted to reconstruct the entire song.
“I may have to put them on and record them again,” she confessed.
“Everybody that bought Coal Miner's Daughter would want it. Yeah. I've gotta do it.”
Lynn toured the U.S. in March to promote her album with dates scheduled to the end of October.
“I'll ask the public what they want to hear,” Lynn says of her live performances.
“A lot times, they'll ask for a song I sang when I first started, and I won't remember it. But I'll just tell them, ‘I don't remember that.'”
With a devoted fan base, she welcomes a little audience participation during her shows.
“They sing along with me every night,” she says of the fans.
“The front row sings just as loud as I am.”
If you can't afford to catch Loretta in her homeland all is not lost.
AMBER JOY POULTON - LOCAL LORETTA TRIBUTE SHOWS
Adelaide foothills born singer-songwriter Amber Joy Poulton headlines a Coal Miner's Daughter tribute show in Mildura, Bendigo, Wangaratta and Ballarat in May.
Coal Miner's Daughter also features Lizzie Moore as Patsy Cline and Denis Surmon as Conway Twitty, accompanied by The Holy Men .
The show dates are
Wednesday May 25 - Mildura Arts Centre.
Thursday May 26 - The Capital Bendigo.
Friday May 27 - Wangaratta Performing Arts Centre.
Saturday May 28 - Her Majesty's Ballarat.