She was a Country Music Hall of Famer, known for writing and signing about her real life and struggles she faced as a woman.
And a popular subject in a lot of her biggest hits came from inspiration and issues she had with her husband, Doolittle Lynn. He played a large part in her success as an artist, especially in her early years, but was known to have a wandering eye.
Loretta was pretty open about the fact that he was unfaithful during many years of their marriage, and one song in particular called “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man),” came as a direct result of his cheating.
“You Ain’t Woman Enough” was the title track to her 1966 album of the same name, and peaked at #2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles chart, ultimately becoming one of her signature songs.
In a feature with 60 Minutes Uncut back in 2005 with Mike Wallace, around the release of her 2004 Grammy-winning album with Jack White called Van Lear Rose, she told the story behind it:
“I wrote ‘You Ain’t Woman Enough’ because there was an old gal that didn’t live too far from us. Her name was (censored), and I hope you’re listening, you old bag.
She was going with Doolittle. My little girl walked off the bus.”
First of all, I love the fact that Loretta will still name drop her and then look directly into the camera and call her an “old bag.” She’s simply iconic.
And some of her team starting laughing in the background when she said that, and in true Loretta fashion, responds with this:
“What’re y’all laughing about? This is the truth. You can’t do nothing about it, can you?”
A true queen…
Jack White, who produced the aforementioned Van Lear Rose album, said Loretta never forget any of the girls’ names that she found out were sleeping with her husband.
During the recording process of that album, he said Loretta would always tell him exactly who each song was about and she never, ever forgot any of them. To be a fly on the wall for that…
But Loretta said the real final straw understandably came this time when one of her daughters got off the bus crying one afternoon, saying the driver told her that her daddy was in love with someone else and they were going to get married:
“But my little girl come off the school bus and says, ‘Mama,’ she was crying. I said what honey?
She said, ‘This old girl that’s driving the school bus says her and daddy’s in love, and they’re gonna get married.'”
And Mrs. Loretta did not appreciate that one bit:
“I said, ‘Oh.’ I found out who it was.
Doolittle was stepping high. He had (censored) over at my house, telling me that that’s all a lie, and I could see that she was lying, and Doolittle too.
I just thought, well, they deserve each other. But that was the end of that.”
I have no doubt in my mind Loretta took care of business and made sure that woman never stepped foot in her house again.
But when it came to actually writing the song, she put it together in 10 minutes after a fan snuck backstage and told her about her cheating husband was sitting in the audience with his side-chick at Loretta’s show.
“One night, at one of my live shows, me and a girlfriend were talking. She told me her husband, who was there with her, was running around on her. She was crying because when she came through the door to get in to the show, she saw the other woman was also there.
I said, ‘We will fix that old gal.’ That night I sang ‘You Ain’t Woman Enough’ and dedicated it to her. Girlfriends gotta stick together.”
During the same feature on 60 Minutes, they also show a performance of “Fist City,” and Loretta explained it was another song about one of her husbands flings, known to her as “an old girl I was fixin’ to kill”:
“I want you guys to know, us girls would never seeing a song like that if there wasn’t some old girl after you.
We want you know your wife loves you, see. And if she gets a hold of this old gal, she’ll kill her.
She’ll want to have a hair lift in her head, that’s how I felt.”
The world just won’t be the same without her, and her honesty and authenticity in everything she did will never be matched by any other artist, in country music or otherwise.
When Mike pressed her on why, even in the 2000’s, she was still writing about these women, she said:
“I still write songs about the old girlfriends, too. And that’s good. They’re still makin’ me money, you know.”
A country legend and incredible businesswoman. One helluva combination.
And yes, she did have to set a few of them straight back in the day, and she wasn’t afraid to get physical if she needed to…
“Well, I have had a few fights over him. If you get the first lickin’, you’re okay. If you don’t get the first lickin’, it’s not too good.”