There are two words that have been used so much this century that they’ve practically lost all of their meaning. We use “hero” so much that anyone who has an infinitely tiny struggle is, perplexingly, called a hero. There are heroes in this world; a firefighter who rushes into a burning building to rescue a child is definitely worthy of that moniker. The kid who racks up the most kills on the newest “Call of Duty” game is no hero, except maybe to the other kids stuck inside on a beautiful day playing the same damned game.
The term “legend” is also an overwrought title handed out like candy on Halloween night. Doing something for twenty years shouldn’t bestow “legendary” status on someone; that title needs to be earned from decades of perseverance and successes. A legend derives that title from the respect and appreciation for a body of work that will last long after that person has shed their mortal coil.
Kanye? Not a legend. Bowie? Most definitely.
Which leads me to my next point: There really aren’t many living legends left in the music business. And fewer who still actively tour.
Named after silver-screen beauty Loretta Young, country superstar Loretta Lynn took the stage for the first time almost sixty years ago. Let’s face it, there aren’t many people who start their careers before the Berlin Wall was built and are still going strong almost thirty years after that wall came crumbling down. If there is American Country & Western royalty, she is definitely the queen.
Her 1976 biography “Coal Miner’s Daughter” was turned into the 1980 Oscar-winning film of the same name. Most folks don’t get their lives made into a film until much later in their years because we need, ya know, stuff to happen to us. Ms. Lynn’s life, by age 30, had already been a flurry of excitement, drama and tragedy. She became a grandmother, at age 34, for the first time in 1966. She’s the most-awarded female Country singer of all time.
Oh yeah, did I mention that she started her career three years prior to the JFK assassination? She’s got some legs, this Kentucky native.
Much has been written about her early years; the dirt-poor upbringing that she and her siblings endured while being raised hard scrabble in rural Appalachia. How music flowed in and out of her daily life. How, at the insistence of her husband “Doolittle” she started a band. After entering a talent contest, hosted by of all people, Buck Owens, she won a recording contract. Her first tune, “I’m a Honky Tonk Woman” became a smash and the rest, as they say, is history.
So, you may ask, why am I writing a biography of Loretta Lynn?
Next Sunday, April 17th, will see Ms. Lynn play a show at the Hard Rock Rocksino. Perhaps she doesn’t move as quickly as she once did. Maybe her voice isn’t as strong as it once was. But, if you happen to saunter into the Rocksino and see her set up on that stage you may witness something that many of us don’t get to see up close and in person: A true legend gracing us with ninety-or-so minutes of magic.
And, one day in the not-too-distant future, you’ll be glad that you did.
Hard Rock Rocksino
Sunday, April 17th
For tickets to Sunday’s show, click here.