Photo courtesy of Loretta Lynn Enterprises Inc.
Country music icon Loretta Lynn has been laying pretty low since the release of 2004's masterful Van Lear Rose, but now, seemingly out of nowhere, the belle of Butcher Holler has returned with both a new album and a new American Masters documentary on her life. Just in time for Women's History Month, American Masters – Loretta Lynn: Still a Mountain Girl premieres on PBS on Friday, March 4 at 9pm, and offers a wealth of both new and old delights, from rare archival footage of Loretta way back when to studio footage, home movies, and a brand-new interviews and insights from Willie Nelson, Garth Brooks, Sissy Spacek, Reba McEntire, Miranda Lambert, Jack White, and more. I've been lucky enough to see it already, and lemme tell ya, any fan of the Queen of Country Music is going to flip their wigs over this.
I got my first Loretta Lynn record from my grandmother; it was a battered old copy of Coal Miner's Daughter, its sleeve marked with the faint scrawl of her handwriting—"Veronica"—from when she'd bought it back in the 70s. I was immediately hooked on her clear, fiesty voice with its warm, honeyed Appalachian drawl, and her message—that of strength, of sisterhood, of rural pride, all things that resonated with me then and still mean the world to me now. Dolly Parton may be country music's glitzy, gutsy high priestess, but Loretta Lynn will always be the queen.
That being said, I'm extremely proud to be premiering an exclusive video clip from American Masters – Loretta Lynn: Still a Mountain Girl watch it below for a glimpse at a vintage performance of "Fist City," and an illuminating interview with Willie Nelson.
If that wasn't enough to leave you all shook up, Loretta Lynn's new album, Full Circle, comes out the same day via Legacy Recordings—March 4 is basically shaping up to be a second Christmas for old-school country fans. The album's incredible, too; on Full Circle, she walks back the more experimental tendencies of Van Lear Rose and instead reaches for the tried and true. The album's 14 songs range from twangy Appalachian folk songs, a hint of her beloved gospel, and a few reimaginings of her own classics, like "Fist City" and "Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven," and brings some sunshine to the classic Appalachian lament, "In the Pines." It even includes an update on the first song she ever wrote, "Whispering Sea."
She brings a few friends along, too—Willie Nelson and Elvis Costello both make appearances (Nelson lends his finely-aged warble to the sweet duet, "Lay Me Down," while Costello guests on the hands-off-my-man ditty "Everything It Takes"). The album was recorded at Cash Cabin Studio in Tennessee, and produced by Patsy Lynn Russell and John Carter Cash; Full Circle is also the first volume in a new series called the Cash Cabin Recordings.
There are a couple of new songs floating around the internet right now, and I couldn't resist posting them here—the aforementioned duet with Elvis Costello, and the sprightly, introspective "Who's Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone." I'm sure Loretta knows full well that she'll be missed by millions, but there's plenty of fight left in this coal miner's daughter yet.
Preorder Full Circle here, and watch this space—we're got more Loretta Lynn coming your way soon!
Kim Kelly is high on a mountain top on Twitter.