Happy 91st Birthday to the great, late, Loretta Lynn.
The coal miner’s daughter from Butcher Hollow, Kentucky laid down a path that allowed so many women in country music to flourish.
She wrote about real life, not from the lenses of a high and mighty songwriter, but as a woman who experienced more than most could imagine during her life.
Loretta was raised by her parents on a subsistence farm, was married and a mother by 15 years old, raised 6 children, dealt with lots of spousal infidelity, taught herself to play guitar, and fought tooth and nail to earn every bit of success she accrued over her 6+ decade long career.
This tough life and tougher attitude is displayed throughout her catalogue.
Hits like “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)”, “The Pill”, “Don’t Come Home A-Drinking (With Loving On Your Mind)”, and “Coal Miner’s Daughter” each display a different part of her attitude on life and the internal strength she had (along with a willingness to be controversial), but there’s always been one song that never gets the credit it deserves.
“Fist City” was the title track to her 1968 album and became her 2nd career number one.
The song was inspired, as many of her best were, by the constant cheating of her husband, although this was more of a warning to women tempted to sleep with him than retaliation against the man himself.
In her 2001 autobiography, she speaks of writing this song.
“I’ve been in a couple of fights in my life. I fight like a woman. I scratch and kick and bite and punch. Women are much meaner than men.
So I warned any girl making eyes at Doo then, and I’m still jealous enough to warn ’em today… if you see this cute little old boy near me wearing his cowboy hat, you’d better walk a circle around us if you don’t want to go to Fist City.”
If there’s a better was to say “I’m gonna punch you” than “You don’t want to go to Fist City,” I’d love to hear it, because that’s one of the best lines I’ve ever heard.
“I’m not a sayin’ my baby’s a saint‘Cause he ain’t And that he won’t cat around with a kitty I’m here to tell you gal to lay off a my man If you don’t want to go to fist city…”
Scrappy, honest, tough-nosed; all of those could describe both Loretta and this song, which is why I believe there’s none better that sum up her whole being than this one.
RIP Loretta Lynn.