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Loretta Lynn: ‘I’m as country as corn bread’

By Melissa Ruggieri, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution –

ATLANTA — Few legends are as candid as Loretta Lynn.

Many are so robotically polished that they’ll dodge a question or spout a rote answer rather than go off script.

Lynn has no script. Her frankness and sass haven’t diminished a whit in 80 years, and as a bonus, she’s an accommodating and cheerful subject.

With more than 50 albums and almost 90 singles (16 that went No. 1), Lynn’s pioneer status as a female country music singer-songwriter is unparalleled.

She’s also still on the road several times a month and her life story is being turned into a Broadway show starring Zooey Deschanel.

Recently, Lynn chatted from her ranch in Tennessee about the play, her life and her love of Alan Jackson.

Q: What keeps you touring, especially outside in these hot summer months?

A: It’s just one of them things. When somebody needs you, you just go.

Q: Are there any songs you feel you have to play but would rather not?

A: You have to do “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” They’re hollering right off the bat for that one. I tell ‘em, “Just wait a minute!” You just get to where you do some songs because (the audience) is gonna make you do them. They paid their admission.

Q: Do you still keep in touch with Sissy Spacek?

A: We were together not too long ago. If anything happens for me, she’ll be there. We got real close making that movie.

Q: Your life story is headed to Broadway, and you picked Zooey Deschanel to portray you. What was it about her that appealed to you?

A: Back in the day, her and I were about the same size. We had the same color eyes. I told her that I was with Sissy for a year before “Coal Miner’s” so if you need me, let me know. I said, “Don’t feel bad callin’ me.”

Q: Has she yet?

A: Not yet, but she knows I’m working.

Q: Your last album was almost a decade ago …

A: Was it? Well, I’ve got 60-something songs cut already. I’ve got a Christmas album, two religious albums. I’m gonna put ‘em out and get ‘em on the radio.

Q: Do you think you’ll do another collaboration, like you did in the ‘90s with Tammy Wynette and Dolly Parton?

A: Me and my sisters were supposed to record together, but Crystal Gayle (her youngest sister) is so doggone slow! It takes her 10 years to walk across town. If they want to record with me, they know where I’m at.

Q: Who do you still want to record with?

A: Me and Merle Haggard are going to do a record. I want to record a song with him that he wrote, “Today I Started Loving You Again.” And Alan Jackson, I do love him.

Q: Should we tell him to give you a call?

A: He’s so bashful, he don’t give nobody a call. But if he was to change, I wouldn’t like him. I love Garth (Brooks), too. Now Garth, he’ll call me, but Alan doesn’t do stuff like that.

Q: What do you think about the current Nashville scene?

A: Country today is like pop music was 40 years ago, that’s the way I see it. But I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I like the polished sound, even though I’m as country as corn bread.

Q: Do you consider yourself a feminist, considering your songs such as “The Pill” and “Don’t Come Home a-Drinkin’”?

A: I think I do. But that’s what no one could understand, that I could think that way and be so country. But you can be country and speak up. I had my opinions and I let everybody know it.

Q: What do you still want to accomplish?

A: I want to have more hits. Giving up is for quitters! No one says anything anymore (in songs). They need me out there.

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